More vouchers on the alleged N3 billioncontract scam linked to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoCSF), Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, have been retrieved by the Economic and Financial CrimesCommission (EFCC) investigators.
There were indications last night that Mrs. Oyo-Ita may face trial along with a former minister and some civil servants linked to some phony contracts.
It was learnt that she has been under intense pressure to quit through voluntary retirement.
Although rumours were rife in Abuja yesterday that the embattled HoCSF had opted to retire by serving a notice, the Presidency said it had not received any such letter.
The only memo sighted by one of ourcorrespondents was Mrs. Oyo-Ita’s notice of days off work from August 14 to August 19.
Mrs. Oyo-Ita did not report at work on Monday, and was absent at the presidential retreat organised for ministers-designate in Abuja.
Investigation by The Nation revealed that additional contract papers and payment vouchers were retrieved from two more ministries by EFCC detectives.
It was also learnt that some permanent secretaries and directors have confirmed their readiness to testify against Mrs. Oyo-Ita.
Preliminary investigations indicated that “if Mrs. Oyo-Ita refuses to appear for further interrogation, there is enough evidence to put her on trial.”
It was gathered that she might be prosecuted along with a former minister, who had earlier been interrogated by the EFCC and some officials involved in the alleged contract scandal.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Ourdetectives have received more contract papers and payment vouchers, statements from banks and account profiles.
“Certainly, we have more questions to ask from Oyo-Ita whose recovery we are monitoring. We need more sessions with her in the light of revelations from some permanent secretaries and directors of finance from some ministries.”
The source added: “With our investigation in the last eight to 10 months, we have appreciable evidence to put her on trial with a former minister and some top government officials and companies.
“We hope she will help the cause of justice by returning to the EFCC for further interrogation. She is on administrative bail, but her passports are already seized.”
It was learnt that Mrs. Oyo-Ita was under pressure to quit office by proceeding on voluntary retirement.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a text message, said the Presidency was not in possession of any letter of intent from the HoCSF to retire from service.
“Thanks. We have no such letter here, in the event that such a letter exists. This is our position,” he said.
A top civil servant, however said: “Shehu might be right with his response on Monday but the letter might be undergoing routine bureaucratic procedures.
“The truth is that she has been advised by herassociates, relations and colleagues in the civil service to quit in order to clear her name.
“Some political bigwigs who have interceded on her behalf also advised her to step aside. I think she might have weighed her options by now. This explains why the speculation of her retirement was rife.”
The Office of the HoCSF yesterday denied receiving any directive from any permanent secretary on the allegation that Mrs. Oyo-Ita had either retired or resigned.
The spokesperson for HoCSF, Mrs. Omowumi Ogunmosile, said: “I have not been briefed by any senior officer or received any official information that the HOCSF has resigned. I have been getting calls from the media. When I asked how they got the information, they said through Mrs. Oyo-Ita’s relatives.
“The only circular I have received from madam’s office is a circular informing the office that she was indisposed and won’t be availablein the office from the 14th to 19th of August. That was all. I think by today she should be at the retreat for incoming ministers.”