ICPC arraigns ‘civil servant’ for allegedly stealing N298m from payment platform

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has brought charges against Usman Kwakwa, an employee of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), for allegedly embezzling N298 million through the agency’s payment system.

Kwakwa appeared before a federal high court in Abuja on Thursday, facing a four-count indictment.

He is among several REA officials implicated in a broader investigation into a purported N1.2 billion fraud within the agency.

In March 2023, the ICPC filed separate charges against at least five REA officials, including Kwakwa, for various amounts they allegedly misappropriated from the agency.

Kwakwa denied all charges and was granted bail set at N50 million.

During the court session, prosecution counsel Suobeni Akponimisingha reported the absence of three co-defendants — Emmanuel Titus, Umar Karaye, and Henrietta Okojie. Akponimisingha stated that despite being served with the charges and notified of the proceedings, they did not attend.

He requested the court issue a bench warrant for their arrest. Presiding Judge Emeka Nwite agreed, stating, “The defendant decided not to come to court. I am convinced that the defendant deliberately absented himself from court.”

Judge Nwite scheduled the arraignment for Titus and Karaye on June 13, and for Okojie on June 14.

The ICPC’s separate charges accuse the defendants of transferring funds intended for rural electrification projects from the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) payment platform to their personal accounts.

In a related development, President Bola Tinubu suspended Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, the REA managing director, and three executive directors indefinitely in March, following a detailed investigation into the agency’s financial dealings. However, Ahmad has not been named in any ICPC charges and remains suspended.

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