Sunday, 13 October 2013

I gave Senator Etuk N1bn bribe – N18.3bn pension fund thief

A N1 billion bribe-for-protection allegation is presently rocking the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service chaired by Senator Aloysius Etok from Akwa Ibom State.

Former director of Accounts and Finance (Pension) in the Office of the Head of Service (HOS) of the Federation, Dr Teidi Shuaibu, who is presently being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has, in a petition alleged that he gave N1 billion to Senator Etok “for protection and to give him ‘a soft landing.’”

Last year, Senate mandated a joint committee comprising Establishment and Public Service and States and Local Governments Administration to investigate the administration of pension funds in the country. The committee had since found out that N159 billion pension fund was missing and had a running battle with Abdulrasheed Maina, formerly of the Pension Task Force Team on the exact amount that was missing.

In the course of the committee’s probe, Teidi, in the September 30, 2013 petition said he gave Etok the said amount to shield him from prosecution. To perfect the deal, Teidi averred in the petition with the EFCC that Etok received N400 million in cash and equipment.

In the September 30 petition, which was signed on his behalf by his lawyer and personal assistant, Mr T. E. Okocha and Dr R. Afuzie, respectively, Shuaibu insisted that the Senator initially collected N50 million and another $200, 000 and later took delivery of cars, landed property and industrial equipment to scuttle the probe by the joint committee.

Furthermore, Etok was said to have requested for and got two brand new Mercedes Benz cars, including a 2010 Model Coupe, a D8 Caterpillar, a 33-litre capacity petroleum tanker and an additional $200,000 for his oversight function.

In return, Etok was alleged to have persuaded Shuaibu to attend the Senate public hearing, which held last July, with a promise to use him as a prosecution witness in the attempt at nailing pension thieves.

But Etok has dismissed the N1 billion bribery allegation, insisting that since the matter was with the EFCC, he awaited the commission’s “invitation.”

He also described the allegation as baseless, ridiculous and laughable, adding that it was “a calculated political attempt coming from certain quarters to tarnish my image.

“I read the newspaper publication but I would not want to say anything more than the fact that the allegation is not true. I don’t want to make any further comment since they claimed that the petition is now before the EFCC.

“I am only awaiting a formal invitation from the anti-graft body since the petition is before them. I will make myself available for questioning whenever the EFCC deems it fit to invite me. But the allegation borders on cheap lies and it is baseless, ridiculous and laughable.”

Shuaibu is standing trial for his alleged involvement in an N18.3 billion pension fund scam alongside others charged with similar offense.

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