REVEALED: How N6billion of Pension Fund was siphoned by Oronsaye and others

The Deputy Director in charge of Pension Account in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Phina Chidi, has alleged that she was mandated to ‘shop’ for contractors that will make ‘returns’ to former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Steve Oronsaye.

Chidi made the disclosure in a statement she allegedly made to investigators of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Also, one Osarenkhoe Afe, an IT consultant and nominee of Oransaye as member of a “pension reform committee” also provided evidence to the EFCC how dubious contracts were awarded and the manner in which the monies were allegedly shared, including to Oronsaye.

The deputy director further shed light on how Oronsaye, in collaboration with others allegedly siphoned billions of pension funds during his tenure under the guise of some fictitious biometric enrolment contracts and payment for computer accessories and consumables that were never supplied.

Part of the documents with the EFCC also shows that under Oronsaye’s watch as Head of Service about N5billion in bogus contracts were awarded and payments made between January 2009 and November 2010.

Chidi had written in her statement to the EFCC that, “In addition to my statement on January 11, 2011, I wish to state as follows: that I was asked by Dr. Shuaibu to shop for company names to execute our contracts, proceeds of which should be given to Oronsaye, the then Head of Service,” adding that the proceeds of the bogus contract were kept with two new generation banks before it was transferred to Oronsaye through Dr. Teildi Shuaibu, the Director, Pension Account.

Further documents in the hands of the EFCC investigators shows how an initial contract of N63 million for biometric data capture awarded to Innovative Solutions and Project Limited, handpicked by Oronsaye for the exercise became a conduit through which five other companies and three individuals profited to the tune of N705, 368,245.00

Companies allegedly owned by friends of the former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation allegedly helped in siphoning funds for Oronsaye.

For example, Frederick Hamilton Global Limited had no contract to participate in the biometric exercise but was paid N119,398,500.00. Xangee Technologies received N153, 146,719.00; Fatidek Venture got N30,056,000.00 while Obanlado Enterprises was paid N96,765,400.00. However, Oronsaye had denied knowing about the existence of these companies when EFCC investigators confronted him.

In a statement to the EFCC investigators on December 7, Oronsaye had claimed not to know the promoters of Xangee Technologies, Fatidek Ventures and Obalano Enterprises and never approved any payment to them. But it was discovered that payment mandate to these companies were signed by Phina U. Chidi, Mrs Lawal, and Garba A. Tahir and when Oronsaye was confronted with this mandate, he kept quiet, vowing not to talk until he had seen the full file.

Facts further alleged that payment was also made to Innovative Solutions, Project Limited and Vivians Ebony Nigeria Enterprise. Others were Kate Chinwe Obiekwe, Ibrahim Abdulkarim and Mohammed Abdullahi Ahmed. The trio who were officials of the OHCSF pension, received N56,612,585.00, N80,108,640.00 and N23,760.00 respectively in what was called collective allowance - the omnibus term for allowances paid out to an officer of the OHCSF for distribution to other staff who were supposedly meant to be on a trip, contrary to federal government directives on e-payment.

Of the companies mentioned, only Innovative Solutions had contract with the office of the Head of Service worth N63 million. Its emergence as the preferred contractor is said to be in breach of procurement process as contract for the biometric capture was not advertised. Certificate of no objection was also not obtained by the office of the Head of Service from the Bureau of Public procurement even though Oronsaye was alleged to have indicated in his statement before the EFCC that he made an informal request to the BPP about the process involved.

It was gathered that Innovative Solution was recommended for the contract by Mr. Osarenkhoe Afe, the IT consultant.

Not only did Afe recommend Innovative Solution for the contract, the company’s chief executive, Robert Ikhaziboh, allegedly told EFCC investigators that he was instructed by the same Afe to work with two other companies- Upstrach Communication and Federick Hamilton Global Limited owned by Afe, with specific instruction on the amount to pay the companies whenever he received payment.

When Afe was questioned by the EFCC, he was said to have confessed that the payments to Innovative Solutions were inflated.

Bank statements had shown that the companies were paid a total of N224.85 million and Frederick Hamilton also paid a total of N289.05million out of which N250million was remitted to Oronsaye through third parties.

He added that his own share was N35 million.

The way the money was shared goes like these: Once the first tranche of payment from the OHCSF hit the account of Innovative Solutions, N35million was paid to Uptrach Communications Limited, which was the actual company that executed the biometric contract and all other money shared by those involved in the scam.

Credit: Reuben Buhari/ThisDay