Nigeria: EFCC Hunts Sylva Over Alleged N6.5bn Fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, intensified its bid to prosecute former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, following allegation that he pilfered N6.5 billion from the state treasury whilst he was in office.

The anti-graft agency had in a six-count criminal charge it entered against the ex-governor on February 24, maintained that the said crime was perfected between October 2009 and February 2010.

Meanwhile, sequel to the inability of the commission to serve a copy of the charge on the accused person to pave way for his arraignment, it yesterday secured the nod of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to paste the six-count charge at the front gate of his Abuja residence located within the Maitama District.

Granting an ex-parte application that was filed by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Festus Keyamo, trial Justice Adamu Bello, said a copy of the charge should be pasted at 3, River Niger Street, Maitama, which EFCC identified as his choice abode in Abuja, stressing that he should appear in court on May 8 for arraignment.

Mr. Oghenovo Otemu, who moved the application for substituted service, lamented that spirited efforts by the agency to trace the whereabouts of the former governor with a view to furnishing him with the charge against him, proved herculean.

Sylva at large

He said since January 27 when the accused person was ousted from office by the Supreme Court, he literally vanished into thin air with his close associates denouncing knowledge of his present location.

Otemu urged the court to order the indirect service of the charge on him via substituted means, to wit; pasting it at his residence, saying such order would enable the agency to commence a holistic manhunt for him in any event that he fails to appear for his plea on be taken on the next adjourned date.

After hearing submissions of EFCC lawyer, Justice Bello granted the prayer.

The charges

Specifically, Sylva will be answering to charges bordering on conspiracy, money laundering and obtaining by false pretence, contrary to sections 1(1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2004 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.

EFCC had alleged that he looted public funds under the guise of using the monies to augment salaries of the Bayelsa State Government, even as it identified three persons whose bank accounts, it said was used as conduit pipes for transfer of the illicit funds.

Names of the said accomplices were given as Habibu Sani Maigidia, a Bureau de Change operator with Account No. 221433478108, in Fin Bank, Plc, Enson Benmer Limited with Account No. 6152030001946, in First Bank, Plc and one John Daukoru with Account No. 04800250000418, in United Bank for Africa Plc.

Bayelsa’s N2bn

The charge against him reads: “That you, Timipre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large, some time between October, 2009 and February 2010, at various places in Nigeria, including Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court did conspire to commit a crime to wit: conversion of properties and resources amounting to N2,000,000,000.00 (Two billion naira) belonging to Bayelsa State Government and derived from an illegal act, with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the said amount and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act), 2004 and punishable under Section 14(1) of the same Act.

“That you, Timipre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large, on or about the 22nd of January, 2010, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted N380,000,000 (Three Hundred and Eighty Million Naira), property of Bayelsa State Government, through the account of one Habibu Sani Maigidia, a Bureau de Change operator with Account No. 221433478108, in Fin Bank, Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under section 14(1) of the same Act.

“That you, Timipre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large, on or about the 5th of February, 2010, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted the sum of N50,000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira), property of the Bayelsa State Government, through the account of one Enson Benmer Limited with Account No. 6152030001946, in First Bank, Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under section 14(1) of the same Act.

Source: Vanguard News

  1. Comr Benson Silas Olu Reply

    I pray that the law should fetch out every self centred and wicked authorities to book and, face the enacted and stipulated penalties as prescribed by the LAW of the land. Because the law of the land is “absolute and supreme”.

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