An FCT High Court in Maitama has granted a N20 million bail to Philomina Chieshe, a sales clerk for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) suspected of misappropriating the sum of N36 million. When a team of auditors tried to audit the accounts of JAMB's Benue State branch in 2018, Chieshe could not account for N36 million she had made for the agency from the sale of scratch cards. When she was probed, she claimed it was her housemaid that colluded with another JAMB staff, Joan Asen, to "spiritually" steal the money from the vault in the accounts office with the help of a snake. "My housemaid said that the money disappeared spiritually. She said that a mysterious snake sneaked into the house and swallowed the money in the vault," she had told investigators. When she was first arraigned before the court on Friday, May 31, 2019, Chiese pleaded not guilty to the eight-count charges bordering on refusal to disclose the true information on the financial status of JAMB e-cards supplied to the Benue zonal office between 2014 and 2016. During her bail hearing on Monday, June 3, counsel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ekene Iheanacho, prayed to the court to remand her in custody because she had allegedly previously jumped bail. However, the defendant's counsel, Mark Feese, denied this and urged the court to grant her administrative bail. In his ruling, Justice Peter Affen set bail at N20 million and ordered the defendant to produce two sureties in like sum. The sureties must have landed property in Abuja worth the value of the bail sum. The defendant was also directed to submit her international passport to the court. The bail hearing for Samuel Sale Umoru, a state coordinator with JAMB who was arraigned alongside Chiese, was adjourned till June 11, while the trial will commence on September 16.
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