Pension Stakeholders have called on the Nigerian Police Force to ignore what it described as “sudden illness” in detention of the former Member of the House of Representatives, Nze Chidi Duru, who is in police custody over alleged armed invasion of the head office of First Guarantee Pension Limited, a Pension Fund Administrator (PFA).
Citing several incidences of alleged breach of bails in the past, the stakeholders said “Chidi Duru’s sudden slump is a mere theatric and prank to hoodwink the police and avoid arraignment”.
The stakeholders who spoke through the Centre for Humanity (CfH), a pro-pensioners Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), maintained that “a crime against pensioners is a crime against humanity”.
They, however, reminded the police that the former lawmaker was allegedly “in the habit of jumping bail”.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Ngozi Ogbu, the group said: “We readily recall that in 2012, the former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. MD Abubakar released Chidi Duru on bail when he was arrested over alleged theft of N20 million belonging to the First Guarantee Pension. But he vanished and later sent from hiding an injunction restraining the police from arresting him or charging him to court.
“We recall that the police declared him wanted in a gazette entitled “Nze Chidi Duru ‘M’: Wanted by the Office of the Inspector-General of Police, Louis Edet House, Abuja” and marked CR: 3000/GP.SEC/MU/TB/ABJ/21/02/13.
“The gazette partly read: ‘The above named person is hereby declared wanted by the Nigeria Police on C.R.O Form 5, Issued by the Office of the Inspector-General of Police…. He is wanted for the offence of conspiracy, forgery, theft, and cheating. Method used in committing the offence is that suspect illegally diverted the sum of N20 Million Naira, which belong to First Guarantee Pension Limited’.
We also recall that his brother, Ugochukwu Duru, was declared wanted in the same gazette for the same offences.
“We also wish to remind the police that Chidi Duru was previously arrested in connection by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2011 in connection with alleged crimes against the First Guarantee Pension, but was admitted to administrative bail in October 2011. His relative, Mrs. Christie Chinyere Ekweonu, currently the Director of Legal Reporting at the Federal Ministry of Justice, was his surety.
“Unfortunately for the woman, the EFCC ended up arresting her around 10:15am on 11th May 2016 and detained for sometime, when Chidi Duru vanished and refused to come out to face his charges”.
The CfH, also claimed that Nze Duru repaid the M.K Ahmad-led National Pension Commission (PenCom) in bad coin in 2011 when it acceded to the former lawmaker’s pleas for soft-landing in the form of voluntary resignation over alleged indictments against First Guarantee Pension, but only to use the reprieve to go to court against PenCom and the company.
“Even though he voluntarily retired vide a letter dated 21st July 21, 2011, he used the opportunity of the reprieve he got to go to court against PenCom, thereby opening a floodgate of litigations currently before several courts, including the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
“We therefore have no doubt that he is only playing pranks to gain a breather and disappear, once again. We advise the police and members of the public to ignore Duru’s theatrics and charge him to court immediately in the interest of justice and pensioners”, the stakeholders added.
Chidi Duru was arrested and detained by the Police on Thursday, January 12, 2017 over alleged armed invasion of the head office of the FGPL situated at No. 65, Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos, in the company of some armed men, including two police officers on illegal duty on Wednesday, 11th January, 2017.
Sources within the police said he may be arraigned on a five-count charge on Monday. However, he was said to have taken ill in police detention at the weekend and reportedly slumped.
However, when contacted by newsmen, the Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Command, Dolapo Badmus, confirmed his “sudden illness”, but explained he had been given necessary medical attention.
“Yes, he claimed that he fainted and we have well-equipped hospital. He is being treated. We will soon charge him to court”.
Meanwhile, the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the First Guarantee Pensions Limited (FGPL) in a statement over the week-end revealed how Hon Duru illegally invaded the PFA with armed men.
“In the early morning of Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, Nze Chidi Duru in company of armed gunmen invaded the company’s Head Office situated at 65 Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos, disrupted the operations and held members of management, staff and customers of the PFA hostage.”
“The IMC of FGPL is glad to inform the esteemed clients of the PFA and the general public that the Nigeria Police had swiftly intervened to restore normalcy
and security in the PFA’s office and Nze Chidi Duru and his cohorts arrested for further investigation and necessary action.”
“Nze Duru had alleged that PenCom had not complied with the terms of a Judgment, the execution of which he knew to have been stayed and with a pending appeal before the Court of Appeal. Furthermore, the invasion was without recourse to his pending appeal to the Supreme Court challenging his removal as director of the PFA and praying for an order of judicial review of PenCom’s removal order.”
“The IMC of FGPL was indeed embarrassed by the incident and regrets the trauma and physical assault occasioned on its staff by the erstwhile director who invaded the Head Office with armed thugs. The desperate efforts to confiscate the personnel files of his siblings currently facing criminal investigations, lap tops, official vehicles and physical demand for money to pay his hotel expenses was a disgraceful conduct by the former legislator. It is specifically an act of contempt of pending court processes on the subject matter of his removal.”