How FIRS officials siphoned N2bn through Duty Allowances – EFCC

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The trial of Head of Stakeholders Unit of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Emmanuella Eteta Ita, and Surestart School Limited continued on Monday, November 22, before Justice F. Giwa Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has presented two more witnesses.

The fourth prosecuting witness, Ijeoma Matilda, an operative of the EFCC, while being led in evidence by prosecuting counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, told the court that sometime in November 2015, the Commission received an intelligence report alleging that the former Coordinating Director of the FIRS, Peter Hena, conspired with the first defendant using staff of the unit to siphon money from the FIRS through Duty Tour Allowances (DTA) to the tune of over N2 billion.

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The witness said: “We went ahead to investigate the first defendant. She denied receiving any money from Peter Hena.

“She admitted that Peter Hena gave her a bag to give to the then chairman, Tunde Fowler, which she didn’t know.

“We further investigated the first defendant’s bank salary account, where we discovered various payments from FIRS, for various reasons. We also found out that, between 2015 and 2017, she had received a total sum of N277.5 million.

“She received another N173,346,219.50 for DTA and Entertainment expenses.

“From the above sum, we discovered that she transferred N145.8 million between 2015 and 2017, to the account of the second defendant.”

The witness further disclosed that the first defendant could only account for N32.4 million during a reconciliation of her account.

“We also verified some of the receipts, belonging to Lomein Express Ltd. and discovered that 26 of the documents amounting to N76.4 million were forged, as confirmed by the owner of the company.”

Also testifying, the 5th prosecuting witness, Ibom Uche, a Director of Accounts with the FIRS, told the court that sometimes in October 2020, the EFCC sent a letter addressed to the Executive Chairman of FIRS, which was minuted to him, to certify some documents, which he carried out.

Under cross-examination by Benjamin Ogbayi, counsel to the first defendant and Andrew Hassien, counsel to the second defendant, the witness pointed out that he only worked based on the instructions.

Justice Ogunbajo adjourned further hearing to November 24.

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