5 consultants divert N1.4bn Geneva grant to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria

The suspects allegedly conspired among themselves to receive & systematically embezzle the sum.

The trial of five persons, implicated in the fraudulent diversion of about $4 million (about N1.44 billion) of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Nigeria, began on on Tuesday.

The suspects – Abimbola Abioye, Wuraola Adebayo, Zubairu Ibrahim, Faturiti Jacob and Azeez Aderemi – are facing a six-count charge that borders on criminal conspiracy, forgery and embezzlement of the grant granted by the Geneva-based agency.

They were arraigned before Justice Goodluck of the FCT High Court, Maitama.

The Global Fund had in March 2016 suspended payments to Nigeria’s AIDS agency, over diversion of about $3.8m allegedly stolen by workers & consultants. The grant was also to ensure the establishment of a National Health Information System for Nigeria.

The suspects, employees of Dept of Planning, Research & Statistics, allegedly conspired among themselves to receive & systematically embezzle the sum amount through the use of fictitious invoices, receipts of hotel stays, air flight tickets and other instruments.

They all pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

The Court thereafter admitted them to bail in the sum of N1million each and one surety each in like sum, who must be level 12 above and must be resident in Abuja.

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