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FIRS Official Accused of Diverting Public Funds to Private School, Witness Testifies

A prosecution witness at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, revealed how Emmanuella Ita, the Head of Stakeholders Unit at the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), allegedly channeled substantial sums of money from the FIRS unit to her private institution, Surestart School Ltd.

According to a press release by Dele Oyewale, spokesperson for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ms. Ita operated Surestart School Ltd concurrently with her duties at the FIRS.

Testifying as the sixth prosecution witness (PW6), EFCC investigator Ijeoma Matilda detailed to the court that the funds purportedly diverted by Ms.
Ita were designated for specific projects under her unit’s jurisdiction at the FIRS.

Matilda explained that these funds were tracked to Ms. Ita’s personal account with corresponding payment descriptions.

Matilda informed the trial judge, Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, that investigations revealed the same funds were funneled directly into the account of Surestart School Ltd, the second defendant in the case.

The witness recounted the defendant’s visit to the EFCC office, where Ms. Ita cooperated in the reconciliation process and volunteered to refund unaccounted funds.

Matilda disclosed that Ms. Ita had refunded approximately N17 million but claimed only benefiting N5 million from the program, though the source of repayment remains unclear.

Matilda clarified that the investigation primarily focused on the diversion of funds and not on standard practices for fund sourcing before reimbursement.

Further testimony revealed discrepancies in receipts presented by Ms. Ita, allegedly obtained from vendors who denied their authenticity. Ms. Ita purportedly attributed these receipts to a deceased FIRS staff member named Daniel.

The investigation extended to verifying Daniel’s involvement and beneficiaries, prompting inquiries with FIRS, UBA, and System Spec. Subsequently, the EFCC summoned all relevant parties involved in the case.

Following the cross-examination, Judge Ogunbanjo-Giwa adjourned the proceedings until March 20th and 21st for the continuation of the trial.

The EFCC is pursuing charges against Ms. Ita and Surestart School Limited, comprising 25 counts including criminal misappropriation, diversion, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering amounting to N2 billion.

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