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Police indict councillor who collected deceased friend’s salaries for two years

Posted by By Adelani Adepegba on 2008/09/20 | Views: 1674 |

Police indict councillor who collected deceased friend’s salaries for two years

The Enugu State Police Command has indicted Chikezie Aga, a councillor representing Owo ward in Nkanu East Local Government Area, Enugu State for impersonating his late friend, Solomon Anih, to defraud the state government to the tune of N1 million.

The Enugu State Police Command has indicted Chikezie Aga, a councillor representing Owo ward in Nkanu East Local Government Area, Enugu State for impersonating his late friend, Solomon Anih, to defraud the state government to the tune of N1 million.

The story had been broken in an exclusive report by Saturday Punch on September 13, 2008. Anih was a teacher at Community Primary School, Ezeani before his untimely death during a communal strife in May, 2006.

The detectives that investigated the allegations of conspiracy, forgery and impersonation reported by another friend of the late Anih, Innocent Arumeze, against the councillor, claimed they had found overwhelming evidence to the effect that the Education Secretary for Amankanu Local Government Education Authority, Mr. Gilbert Ani, conspired with Aga to commit the crime.

The report of the investigations signed by John Onukwube, DSP, of the Anti-fraud section of the state CID, and addressed to the Assistant Commissioner of police, ‘D’ Department found that although Anih died on May 7, 2006, his salary was still being paid till date by the education authority and that Aga, a serving councillor, opened an account with First Bank Plc, Emene branch, Enugu on August 29, 2006 with the name Ani Solomon Emenike.

It stated that the Education Secretary (Gilbert Ani), wrote to the bank authorising it to transfer salaries in account number 0140300459200 belonging to late Anih Solomon Egbuaba to account no. 1533010077174 opened under the name Ani Solomon Emenike but operated by Aga.

The police also discovered that the headmaster of Community Primary School, Eziama, and other staff of the Amankanu Education Authority all acted in compliance with the instructions of Ani to defraud the state government, using the name of the dead teacher.

In the course of the investigation into the allegations, detectives quizzed the principal suspect, Aga; the Education Secretary for Amankanu Local Government Education Authority; the headmaster of Community Primary School, Ezeani, Mr. Joseph Nnamani; and the Administrative Officer of Amankanu LGEA, Mr. Benneth Okafor. Other suspects that were interrogated included the accountant to the LGEA, Mrs. Reginald Ezieke and the former head of account department of the education authority, Jane Eze.

The report dated August 12, 2008 notes that Aga receives salary at the Enugu State Ministry of Agriculture through account no. 50100004813 domiciled at Oha Microfinance Bank Limited, Emene.

The police investigation report into the case titled “Re: Case of conspiracy/forgery/impersonation and stealing” says that “Aga Chikezie possesses identity cards of Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board, Amankanu Local Government Education Authority, Idodo and a First Bank Plc automated teller machine all bearing the name Anih Solomon E. but with the passport photograph, telephone number, house address and signature of Aga Chikezie.”

The report further states that “both Aga and Gilbert Ani knew the late Solomon Anih well and were aware of his death and therefore conspired to draw his salaries since June 2006 till date and share between themselves.”

It submitted that the case of conspiracy, forgery, impersonation and stealing had been established against Aga and Gilbert Ani “beyond reasonable doubt as there were overwhelming evidence to prove the alleged crime against them.” It, therefore, recommended that the duo be arraigned for the offence and for stealing over N1 million from the state government.

Aga had in his statement to the police, denied collecting salaries from the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board or impersonating his late friend. He stated that he did not possess ESUBEB identity card and insisted that he did not know how his picture got to be on the card when it was shown to him. He also denied operating any account with First Bank Plc, Emene, while expressing surprise about how his picture, signature, GSM number and house address got to be on the signature card from the bank. He admitted being a staff of the Agriculture ministry, but noted that he resigned his appointment before he contested for the councillorship election and had since not collected any salary from the ministry.

Gilbert in his statement had also denied involvement in the scam, saying that he did not know the late Anih as there were nearly 300 teachers under the education authority. Although he admitted that the signature in one of the payment vouchers was his, he stated that he was not involved in the preparation of the payment schedule for teachers, stressing that the vouchers and bank schedule were prepared from schools, sent to the account department of the education authority for vetting after which he would append his signature. His concern, according to him, was to ensure that there was no increase in the number (of staff) without authorisation.

The education secretary denied knowledge of Anih’s death, maintaining that his office was not informed about his death. He, however, admitted authorising the letter to First Bank Plc about one Ani Solomon E. who was unable to access his salary, asserting that the man was on their payroll, but he did not know him. In another breath, the education secretary stated that his assertion about the said Ani Solomon was an error and that he regretted signing the letter to the bank on his behalf.

In his statement, Nnamani said that he knew Anih as a teacher in the Community Primary School, Ezeani, where they were all teachers under Gilbert Ani as headmaster till 2007 when he (Ani) was made the education secretary and he took over as headmaster of the school. “Solomon had been working under me until 2006 when I could no longer see him. When I heard that he was sick, I went to the education secretary and informed him that Solomon had been away from school for a long time and whether I should stop paying him, but the education secretary said I should continue to pay him,” he wrote.

Under interrogation, Okafor, the administrative officer in the education authority, claimed tha he could not remember the late teacher and that he had no record of his death which he should have as the officer in charge of records.

The branch manager of First Bank, Mrs Mady Iroha, who was also summoned, disclosed that there were two accounts under the names Anih Solomon Egbuaba and Solomon Ani Emenike. She said that the reversals observed on the statement of account of the former went into the account of the education authority while some went into the account of Emenike at the instance of the education authority. Emenike’s account, she added, held the bank’s ATM card.

Anih’s widow, Chinasa, 29, informed investigators that her husband was a friend to Aga and that the education secretary gave her mother N5000 to be given to her. She stated that when she went to him for her husband’s June, 2006 salary, he told her that his office was aware of Anih’s death and would no longer pay.

In an interview with Saturday Punch, Chinasa who now works as a nanny to feed her two little children said she did not know that her husband was being impersonated until she was prompted to file for his entitlement by a friend.

She said she was pained to learn that it was her husband’s friend that obstructed her chances of receiving her husband’s gratuities, adding that she had suffered a lot of deprivations since she lost her man.

Chinasa, who spoke in Pidgin English, lamented her situation, and pleaded with the government to come to her aid by ensuring that she got the benefits due to her.

“You know say I be village woman, I don’t know anything. I no know say na my husband friend dey collect him salary while me and my children dey suffer hunger. Na when I hear about it, I come write to the governor and the police to help me but I never hear from them till now,” she said.

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Comments (3)

Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.