N113 Million Fraud: Detained Ex-Edo SSG Takes Ill, Hospitalized

From Jefferson Ibiwale, Benin

Former secretary to Edo State government,  Simon Imuekemhe, who was remanded at the Oko Medium Security Prisons by a Benin High Court on Monday, is alleged to have taken ill and has been moved to an undisclosed hospital in the State.

Imuekemhe and three others – Joseph Sule Emoabido, (chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB), David Eson Igbinoba, (secretary to the board) and Aghator Gaskin Efe, (director of finance and accounts of the board) – were charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly diverting N113 million SUBEB funds.

The public relations officer of Nigerian Prisons Service, NPS, in Edo State, Aminu Suleiman, who spoke with journalists on phone, confirmed that the former government scribe took ill Monday afternoon few hours after he was taken to prison warranting his relocation to an unnamed hospital for treatment.

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Suleiman explained that there was nothing awkward about Imuekemhe’s case as it was part of “operational process, especially for people not too well” to be taken for treatment.

He, however, kept mum on the nature of ailment for which he is being treated.

While preferring eight count charges against the accused persons, the EFCC alleged that the defendants agreed among themselves to spend public funds allocated for a particular project on another project thereby committing an offence contrary to section 22 (5) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

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Count one, two and three on the charge sheet alleged that the accused persons spent the sum of N16, 853,242.58 for the construction of perimeter wall fencing in Ivbiore Primary School, Ugbor; the sum of N13, 216, 457.26 for the renovation of six classrooms block in Ikirodah Primary School Ugiekha and the sum of N12, 405,154.25 for the renovation of six classrooms blocks in Ikabigbo Primary School Ikabigbo, respectively.

All the projects were allegedly not covered by the intervention funds of SUBEB/State government.

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Counsel to the accused persons, Omoruyi Omonuwa, and other legal representatives, while praying for administrative bail to be granted to their clients, argued that since the EFCC commenced investigations into the matter, the accused persons have always made themselves available in the court indicating that they were willing to subject themselves for the trial.

Notwithstanding, Justice Esther Edigin ruled that the accused persons be reminded in prisons custody pending the determination of their applications for bails and adjourned sitting to March 14, 2014.

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