Two officials of an outsourcing company, Sambhu Nigeria Limited, have been arrested by the Ogun State Police Command for allegedly defrauding the firm of about N8m.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the suspects – Daniel Odeh and Jane Ejeh– were arrested by the police from the Sango Ota division before they were transferred to the Anti-Fraud Unit of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Eleweran, Abeokuta.
While Odeh was the company’s operations manager, Ejeh was the cashier. The duo allegedly inflated salary payments to workers and diverted the excess cash into their own accounts.
The alleged fraud, which had been going on since May 2017, reportedly got to the attention of the company’s Managing Director, Emmanuel Igoche, who reported to the police.
The firm’s Administrative Manager, Aladey Matthew, said the firm initially thought the amount was N5.3m until investigations revealed an additional N2.7m.
He said, “We manage labour for construction firms. Most of our clients, who have their sites in Ogun State, pay workers’ salaries to us. After deducting our service charge, we then pay the workers. At the end of every month, our operations manager submits the wage bill to the MD, who then instructs that the money be disbursed.
“Daniel (Odeh) pays workers in Samstar Nigeria Limited, Pure Chem Manufacturing Limited, among others. We asked him to tell the workers to open bank accounts into which their salaries could but paid, but he refused. We paid blindly as he issued vouchers for workers’ salaries. Unknown to us, the vouchers were being inflated and the surplus cash diverted.
“Sometime in May 2017, Pure Chem increased workers’ salaries. Daniel submitted the new salary rates to us, but he continued to pay the workers the old rates. About N2.5m fraud was committed in Pure Chem alone.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that the fraud came to light in January shortly after Ejeh got wedded in her hometown in Benue State.
The managing director was allegedly called by the company’s new accounts officer, who became involved in the preparation of vouchers for workers’ salaries in December 2017.
The MD was said to have also got calls from some workers, who claimed that their salaries had not been paid for several months.
“The new accounts officer had not been involved in the preparation of vouchers until in December 2017. He discovered the fraud and called the attention of the MD to it. The MD did not immediately take action until some workers started calling that they had not been paid their salaries for several months. We discovered that aside inflating the vouchers, there were many workers he did not pay for two to three months.
“Initially, the man said he was solely responsible for the fraud and the woman should not be interrogated. But during police investigation, the woman confessed to have collected N700,000 from the money,” he added.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the police got a court order to remand the suspects beyond the 48 hours permitted by law to enable them get more information on the actual amount involved in the fraud.
It was alleged that Odeh and Ejeh admitted to N5.3m fraud.
During investigation, an additional N2.7m was allegedly discovered, which brought the figure to N8m.
“Investigations are ongoing as more revelations are coming up. The suspects have not said what they did with the money,” Matthew added.
PUNCH Metro learnt that while Odeh had been working with the company for over five years, the woman got into the company about three years ago. Both suspects are indigenes of Benue State.
“The man brought the lady into the company. The whole fraud was caused by blind trust. The MD left a lot to the operations manager and that was why all this happened,” the admin manager said.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the incident, adding that the case was being investigated at the anti-fraud unit of the SCIID.
“The case was handled by the Sango division, but was transferred to the anti-fraud unit of the SCIID for proper investigation,” Oyeyemi said in a text message to our correspondent on Sunday.