A special revenue task force has uncovered N4.8million fraud allegedly carried out by some judiciary staff in Kogi State High Court.
Chairman of the revenue task force, Mr. Sunday Paul disclosed this when he submitted report of the investigation to the Acting Chief Judge, Justice Josiah Majebi in Lokoja on Tuesday.
Presenting his recent findings, the Chairman of the Revenue Task force, Sunday Paul said he had routinely embarked on checking the account inflows of the court, in conjunction with the court’s deposit money bank, into which payments and fines due to the court were meant to be paid.
According to him, in the course of doing that, he stumbled into a syndicated mechanism where payments to the court by legal chambers, their practitioners and other individuals were manipulated with customized bank tellers and bank stamps to defraud the court.
“On the 28th October, 2022, the sum of two million, four hundred thousand naira (N2,400,000) was paid as judgement debt revenue and bank teller was presented as evidence of payment. I went to the bank on the 7th November, 2022 to collect bank statements for my monthly reconciliation for the month of October, 2022. Amazingly, the said N2.4 million was not in the bank statement,” the report indicated.
“Out of curiosity, we consulted the court’s relevant department before revisiting the bank where he further confirmed that there were other similar unremitted transactions.
“In my curiosity to know what happened to the said money, I immediately informed the Process Unit where the money is supposed to come from. I photocopied the teller and I took it to the bank for verification. My verification reveals that the money was not paid into the revenue account.
“In addition, the bank teller presented as evidence of payment to the Process Unit, the Stamp on the teller and the signature on it were all fake. The fake signature also tallies with those of previous years as an indication of how long the fraud has been perpetrated,” he stated.
Responding to the discoveries, the Acting Chief Judge said the matter was already before the police for thorough investigation.
“In the report dated 9th November, 2022 and captioned “Fraudulent Practice”, we gathered, amongst other findings, that in monthly reconciliation of accounts, the sum of N2.4m said to have been paid into the court’s account was not paid despite evidence of payment showing same.
“We have inaugurated this Revenue Task Force (RTF) to urgently verify all payments allegedly made to the High Court of Justice in the last two years. This ad-hoc Task Force will move to all revenue generating departments and all the courts in the State.
“It will verify all payments made and under what subheads, scrutinize available records and determine whether there are supposed to be records where there are none; confirm, or not, payments made to the court during the period and their worth; analyze all bank documents, including deposit tellers and recommend appropriate remedial actions to be taken,” he said.
He demanded credibility and honesty from management and staff of the court, saying that the institution must be preserved for both present and future generations.
“We are all stakeholders in this project called Judiciary. Let us be vigilant and honest. Let us not try to destroy it or be assisting others to destroy it. People were here before us who maintained it and we must leave it devoid of rots for incoming ones too. Let us eradicate all forms of fraudulent practices for the sake of this and next generations,” he requested.
The task force was inaugurated by Hon. Justice Majebi to principally unravel possible fraudulent activities in the generation of revenue by the Kogi State High Court.