Eniola Akinkuotu and Ifeanyi Onuba
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested the suspended Director-General, of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, Nelly Mayshak, and three others, Yoab Youssoufou, Patricia Iyogun, and Ruth Imonikhe for a N2.5bn fraud.
PTAD is an independent pension agency established in August 2013 to oversee the management of pensions under the Defined Benefit Scheme for pensioners not transiting to the defined contributory scheme.
It will be recalled that Mayshak was last month placed on an indefinite suspension and investigated after it was discovered that she allegedly received N50m monthly in salary and allowances.
According to sources at the EFCC, investigations into the alleged fraud revealed that Mayshak allegedly misappropriated about N2bn that was left in the pensions’ account of the Head of the Civil Service, Nigeria Immigrations Service, Nigeria Customs Service, and Nigeria Prisons Service.
She also allegedly embezzled about N500m meant as the take-off grant for PTAD.
The alleged scam, which borders on procurement fraud, was committed during her three-year tenure.
A detective at the anti-graft agency told our correspondent that Mayshak allegedly awarded several fictitious contracts to her cronies at PTAD, one of whom was her sister-in-law.
A source at the EFCC said, “In one instance, Mayshak allegedly approved N25,410,000 for the supply of 121,000,000 litres of fuel in one day when in fact there was no corresponding storage capacity, as PTAD only has a storage capacity of about 11,000 litres, which lasts for about a month.
“Mayshak is alleged to have awarded several phony contracts to cronies and members of staff of PTAD, through which she used to enrich herself as they only served as fronts for her.
“Between December 8 and 30, 2014 she awarded multiple contracts to one company , Interactive Wide Nigeria Limited to the tune of N29,377,993.26. Contracts for the supply of office materials, air conditioners, and conference materials to the tune of N375, 704,287 were awarded to Belzacode, Hosley Nigeria Limited, and Pabak Nigeria Limited.”
Investigations revealed that one of the suspects, Yousoufou, who is the Team Leader, ICT Department, owned Belzacode; while Imonihke, Team Leader, DG’s Office, owned Hosley Nigeria Limited. Iyogun, who is Team Leader, Customs, Immigration, Prisons, Pensions Department, and also a sister-in-law to Mayshak, owned Pabak Nigeria Limited.
The anti-graft agency, however, said the three suspects were merely fronts for the prime suspect, Mayshak.
The suspects will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.
The latest arrest of Mayshak is one of many pension scams in recent times.
Last year the EFCC declared wanted Mr. Abdulrsheed Maina, a former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, for his role in the fraudulent biometric contracts through which he and a former Head of Service, Steve Oronsaye, and two others allegedly stole over N2bn of pension funds.
The International Police Organisation has already issued a ‘Red Notice’ on Maina, who is believed to have fled to Dubai.
Attempts to get comments from the spokesperson for PTAD, Mrs. Theodora Amechi ,were not successful as calls made to her mobile line did not connect.
Similarly a text message sent to her phone had yet to be responded to as of 7.56pm on Tuesday