FIRS’ N2bn fraud: Witness testifies how Eteta Ita allegedly diverts fund to private account

FIRS’ N2bn fraud: Witness testifies how Eteta Ita allegedly diverts fund to private account

Ijeoma Matilda, the sixth prosecution witness, PW6, in the ongoing trial of the Head of Stakeholders Unit of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Emmanuella Eteta Ita, has testified how the defendant allegedly diverted funds meant for stakeholders’ assignments to her private school account, Surestart School Ltd.

Testifying before Justice Giwa Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, March 18, 2024, the witness revealed that Ita undertook some stakeholders’ assignments and the funds meant for the projects were traced into her account with the payment narration.

She added that the same funds were sent directly into the account of the second defendant, Surestart School Ltd.

According to a statement by the spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Dele Oyewale on Monday, the witness while being cross-examined by the defence counsel, Paul Erokoro, revealed that the defendant during investigations agreed to refund some monies for some reconciliations she could not account for.

According to the statement: “She said in her statement that she will pay back the money, I don’t know where she got the money from, and so far, she has refunded about N17 million, though she told us that she benefited about N5 million from the programme.

“I don’t know the standard practice of sourcing for funds before asking for reimbursement, and it is not within the scope of our investigation. All I know is that she undertook some of the stakeholders’ events, and we saw that those monies that came from FIRS went directly into the account of the second defendant, and the description was that the assignment was not done.”

The statement further quotes: “She said the vendors that were supposed to do the events have given their evidence in court and testified that the receipts didn’t come from them. She further claimed that those receipts were given to her by one Daniel, who was a staff of FIRS.

“We were told he was late and we demanded for the death certificate which was given to us. We requested for his account details and we discovered he was also a beneficiary. We wrote to FIRS, UBA, System Spec, and invited everyone involved in this matter and everything we have here are as a result of our investigations.”

Meanwhile, Justice Ogunbanjo adjourned the matter until March 20, and 21, 2024, for continuation of cross-examination.

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