EFCC arrests military officers diverting death benefits of soldiers
For allegedly opening fake accounts to divert N339m benefits of next-of-kin of deceased military officers and men within two months, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested two military officers and four others.
Two other suspects are still at large as the commission launches a manhunt for them. Some of deceased soldiers, whose benefits were diverted, are said to have died in the course of the war against Boko Haram in the North-east.
According to investigation, the officers arrested were from the Military Pension Board, including a Wing Commander and Lt Commander. Their other accomplices were Branch Manager and Relationship Manager of United Bank for Africa (UBA).
It was gathered that the auditors of UBA raised the alarm when its auditors discovered that huge parts of the funds were “cashed across-the-counter in a suspicious manner.” Based on the alert by the bank, the EFCC stepped in to delve into how the fraud was perpetrated.
A top source in EFCC said: “We have arrested a serving Wing Commander, a Lt. Commander and four others for N339 million death benefits of some deceased military officers and men. Two others are at large but we have watch-listed them.
“The affected military officers were both cashier and computer operator in Military Pension Board, and they connived with six others to carry out the fraud in UBA Branch – Wuse Zone 3 Branch.
“Between April and June 2016, they opened accounts where benefits of the next-of-kins of deceased military men were diverted into. In fact, under two months, N339 million was withdrawn and wired into more than 11 accounts. The withdrawal was in two tranches of N298 million and N41 million. The auditors of the bank observed suspicious withdrawals of huge chunk of the cash from across-the-counter.”
The source claimed that all the suspects have admitted their involvement in the crime. It added, thus: “During the investigation, the Branch Manager and the Relationship Manager confessed and admitted opening these slush accounts. Some existing accounts of customers and the friends of the suspects were also used to divert the funds. Findings confirmed that the husbands of the two bank officials benefitted from the death benefit fraud.
“Two suspects, who are personal friends of the Branch Manager and Relationship Manager, are at large. But we have watch-listed them. We will soon arrest them. The military officers also admitted to have colluded and conspired with the bank officials to use the slush accounts for the fraud. These serving military officers incorporated a company each and funds were wired into the accounts of their companies. This is so sad that, while others are dying in the North-East, some are under AC in Abuja eating their benefits.”