Connect with us

Metro

Two Witnesses Testify As EFCC Opens Case Against Ex-Gov Obiano

Published

on

Two witnesses testified on Tuesday at a Federal High Court, Abuja as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) opened its money laundering case against former Governor of Anambra, Willie Obiano.

A commercial banker staff, Mr Tochukwu Aloysius Nnadi, and an Onitsha-based businesswoman, Mrs Chinwe Patricia Egbunam, were led in evidence as 1st and 2nd prosecution witnesses by EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Sylvanus Tahir, SAN, before Justice Inyang Ekwo.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Obiano was Anambra governor between March 2014 and March 2022.

Advertisement

The former governor, in a nine-count charge, was alleged to have among others, misappropriated over N4 billion from the state’s treasury.

When the matter was called, Nnadi, the 1st prosecution witness (PW-1), told the court that he was a bank manager at Awka, the capital of Anambra.

The witness said: “My lord, as part of our responsibilities, we manage customers’ accounts and interface with various security and anti-graft agencies in terms of enquiry on a customer’s account.

“We usually comply by providing the requested information.

Advertisement

“I know the defendant in this matter. He is the immediate past governor of Anambra State.

“In April 2022, I was informed by our compliance unit that I was needed at EFCC in respect of activities of the past administration of Anambra State.

READ ALSO: NDLEA Bursts Snake-guarded Shrine Used To Store Illicit Drugs, Arrests 2 In Edo[VIDEO]

“I went there with two of my colleagues. The EFCC told me that my invitation was in respect of an ongoing investigation.

Advertisement

“I was told that it was because I was the manager of the branch that handled most of the financial activities of the then state government.

“The state government maintains various accounts with our bank and one of such accounts was for security votes.”

According to him there was really nothing special about the security votes account.

“It was like every other account that we managed for the state government.

Advertisement

“The account was mostly funded by the office of the Accountant General of the state and bulk of the funds came from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state.

“Payments into the account was made on weekly basis and all transactions out of the account were always based on the advice of the account operators.

READ ALSO: Ex-Anambra Gov, Obiano Loses Bid To Stop Trial In N40bn Fraud Charges

“The payments we made out of the account were to various entities and corporate organisations.

Advertisement

“We supplied documents containing names of all the beneficiaries to the EFCC,” the witness added.

However, he declined request by the prosecution counsel, Tahir, to mention names of some of the beneficiaries in the open court.

Nnadi said doing so would amount to a breach of his “oath of secrecy.”

He said the accounts were mostly funded every week.

Advertisement

“Cash withdrawals, manager’s cheques, transfers and drafts were instruments that were used to remove the funds, based on instructions from the operators of the accounts.

“Some of the documents I submitted to the EFCC, included the certified true copies (CTCs) of the statements of account, cover letter for the statements of account, packages used to open the account, as well as certificates of identification for each of the accounts,” he said.

READ ALSO: Pastor Chris Oyakhilome Reacts To Fire Incident At Christ Embassy Hqtrs

Meanwhile, the bundle of documents from the bank, totaling 794 pages were tendered and admitted in evidence by the court as Exhibit PW-1 (A1- A 794)

Advertisement

Another bundle of documents dated June 1, 2023, showing the debits that were made from the accounts, were also admitted in evidence.

Obiano’s lawyer, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, said his client would reserve his objections to the Exhibits and raise them in his final address.

When the witness was asked to read to the court, from the exhibit, some of the names on the list of beneficiaries of funds that were transferred out of the account, he mentioned; “Moment of Peace Ventures, Easy Diamond Integrated Links and Nasda Ventures.”

When being cross-examined, Nnadi told the court that all the transactions that involved his bank, were done in compliance with the mandate on each account.

Advertisement

He said the mandates were also in accordance with the banking practice.

READ ALSO: Police Hunt For Killers Of Retired Army General Slain In Abuja

Shortly after Nnadi concluded his evidence and was dismissed, Mrs Egbunam.mounted the box and testified in the matter.

She told the court that she is a trader that specialised in “Turkey wears.”

Advertisement

She told the court that she had on May 20, received a call that she was needed at the EFCC office over some funds that passed through the account of her company, C.I. Party Ventures Nigeria Limited.

“When I got to the EFCC, I told them that I did not know anything about the money but that I knew that I told my account officer, Mr. Ugochukwu Otibelu, to help me to upgrade my account to enable me to meet requirement of the Embassy of Turkey.

“It was to upgrade the account to enable me to be able to travel and the upgrade was for him to help me and post money into my account.

“My account officer accepted my request and collected my company account and cheque.

Advertisement

READ ALSO: Police Hunt For Killers Of Retired Army General Slain In Abuja

“However, at the EFCC, I was told that about N156. 8 million passed through my account from the Anambra State Government,” she said.

While being cross-examined, the witness told the court that the arrangement was for her account officer to facilitate the inflow of funds into her company’s account.

She told the court that she did not touch the money that was wired into the account as it did not belong to her.

Advertisement

More so, the witness told the court that the directors of the company’s account were her family members.

“Outside the fact that the defendant was the governor of Anambra State, I never had any dealings with him,” she added.

Asked to tell the court about the security situation in the state while Obiano held sway as governor, the witness said: “I currently stay in Anambra. There is usually no movement in the state every Monday because of a sit-at-home order.

“I know ESN and IPOB and they operate fully in Anambra State.”

Advertisement

She said during Obiano’s tenure, the former governor worked with organisations and churches to maintain peace in the state.

“This was because churches, organisations and even mosques were under threat during that period,” the witness added.

Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter until Wednesday for trial continuation.

 

Advertisement

Metro

BREAKING: Corp Members Escape Death As NYSC Hostel Collapses In Ekiti

Published

on

Some Corps members deployed to Ekiti State narrowly escaped death on Friday morning when the wall of the female hostel of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp collapsed on them.

The corp members recuperating in the clinic inside the orientation camp were said to have been rescued by their male counterparts who retrieved them from the rubbles.

One of the sources said: ”Yes the wall of one of the female hostels collapsed this morning (Friday) . It was the bathroom wall which caved in when they were planning to take their bath.

Advertisement

” But thank God, people rushed down there to retrieve them from the rubbles. They have been stabilized at the clinic and they will get further medical treatments.”

READ ALSO:BREAKING: Scores Injured As School Building Collapses In Plateau

An official of the NYSC who spoke on anonymity confirmed the incident, saying only two corps members were affected and recuperating in the camp’s clinic.

He said there have been persistent calls by the leadership of NYSC in Ekiti State for the renovation of the dilapidated hostels but all the calls proved abortive

Advertisement

He called on parents and guardians not to panic over the incident, adding that it had no serious negative impact on the corps members.

The corps members are in the camp for the three-week compulsory orientation camp for those posted to the State.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Metro

BREAKING: Scores Injured As School Building Collapses In Plateau

Published

on

A two-storey building housing Saints Academy School located in Busa Buji, Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State collapsed on Friday morning, leaving scores injured.

The building caved in while school was in session as the secondary school students were receiving lectures.

READ ALSO: Many Trapped As Two-storey Building Collapses In Anambra Market

Advertisement

A two-storey building housing secondary school students collapsed while school was in session in Busa Buji of Jos North LGA of Plateau State.

Rescue operation is underway as security agencies and rescue operators battle with excavators to rescue students and teachers buried under the rubble.

The number of casualty figures has yet to be ascertained

 

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Metro

JUST IN: Ex-Power Minister Collapses Outside Courtroom, Proceeding Stalled

Published

on

The arraignment of Mr Saleh Mamman, former Minister of Power under ex-President Muhammadu Buhari, was, on Thursday, stalled at a Federal High Court, Abuja, due to ill-health.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mamman, whose plea was fixed for Thursday morning, collapsed outside the courtroom before the case was called.

The former minister’s counsel, Femi Ate, SAN, told Justice James Omotosho shortly when the matter was called for Mamman to take his plea.

Advertisement

Upon resumed hearing, the ex-minister walked into the courtroom and stepped into the dock with part of his clothes drenched.

Justice Omotosho then asked why Mamman was sweating or whether it was raining outside.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: Supreme Court Grants LG Financial Autonomy

The former minister, who responded from the dock, said water was poured on him.

Advertisement

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s lawyer, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, SAN, while addressing the court, said though the matter was fixed for Mamman’s arraignment, there was a development outside the courtroom.

Olumide-Fusika said he had discussion with Ate outside the courtroom about Mamman’s ill-health.

I was informed of an incident outside. I will want my learner senior advocate to tell the honourable court himself,” he said.

Speaking, Ate said Mamman, “upon being brought into the premises of the court collapsed and had to be resusitated and treated by the medical personnel of the Federal High Court.”

Advertisement

He said his client was served with the charge after he was resusitated.

He was served this morning,” he added.

READ ALSO: NDDC Summit: Pay Special Attention To Project Design In Riverine Areas, Otuaro Appeals To Stakeholders

The senior lawyer said he sought the understanding of Olumide-Fusika for an adjournment so that the arraignment could be done on Monday when his client would have been okay.

Advertisement

But the judge said due to the workload in the court dockets, the arraignment could only be fixed for September ending.

Ate then withdrew the oral application for an adjournment.

Olumide-Fusika said he had just filed an amended charge earlier in the morning following a mistake in the name of the defendant and prayed the court that the fresh charge be read to Mamman to take his plea but Justice Omotosho disagreed with him.

The judge, however, asked Mamman if he was fit enough to take his plea today and he responded in affirmative.

Advertisement

The former minister explained to the court that he collapsed outside the courtroom because of the drugs he took when he had not eaten, and while he was outside the courtroom waiting to be called, his blood pressure dropped.

Mamman, however, said he was fit to continue with the arraignment.

“It can happen to any one,” the judge said.

READ ALSO: BREAKING States Lose As Supreme Court Rules On LG Financial Autonomy

Advertisement

The ex-minister told the court that he called the attention of his lawyer to the error made by the EFCC on the name in the charge served on him.

“I was complaining about the name, that it was not my own,” he said.

Justice Omotosho then stepped down the arraignment until 1pm today.

NAN reports that the EFCC had filed a 12-count money laundering charge against the Mamman.

Advertisement

He was alleged to have committed the money laundering offences to the tune of N33 billion.

The former minister served under former President Buhari from 2019 to 2021.

READ ALSO: NDDC Summit: Pay Special Attention To Project Design In Riverine Areas, Otuaro Appeals To Stakeholders

On May 10, 2021, he was arrested and detained at the headquarters of the anti-graft agency in Abuja.

Advertisement

Buhari had September 1, 2021, sacked Mamman and the then Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, in what was called a cabinet restructuring.

Mamman was accused of conspiring with staff of the ministry in charge of the accounts of the Zungeru and Mambilla Hydro Electric Power projects to divert about N22 billion.

The investigations uncovered property in Nigeria and overseas allegedly linked to the suspects, while millions of naira and dollars had reportedly been recovered.
(NAN)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending