N2.9bn fraud: Witness exposes ex-NBC boss in court
A principal witness, Abubakar Aliyu Madaki, in the ongoing trial of the former Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission, Emeka Mba and four others, on Friday, told the court before Justice Mojisola Giwa-Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, how the former DG and the four other defendants, allegedly diverted the sum of N2.9 billion.
Mba is facing trial alongside Patrick Areh, Basil Udotai, Babatunji Amure and a company, Technology Advisors allegedly belonging to Udotai, before the Federal High Court, Abuja for illegally diverting the sum of N2.9bn from the funds meant for purchase of set-up boxes for digital switch-over from analogue system.
Madaki, the 13th prosecution witness while giving his evidence-in-chief, said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, received copy of a petition, dated December 31, 2015, which was addressed to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and copied to the acting executive Chairman of the EFCC and was sent to him for investigation.
The witness said the petition has the signature of the Executive Chairman, EFCC and that it was sent in by one Oke Nwafor.
According to him, after studying the petition and mapping out strategies on how to carry out the investigation, he moved into action but was marveled at the series of revelation he got from the several fraudulent transfers that were done from the account while the 1st defendant was still the Director-General of the NBC.
The prosecution counsel, Chile Okoroma, sought to tender the Certified True Copy, (CTC) of the petition in evidence to the court but Counsel to the third defendant opposed to the admissibility of the copy of the petition, arguing that the required fee was not paid to the office of the Head of Service of the Federation.
But Prosecuting Counsel urged the court to discountenance the objection of the defence counsel and cited Section 104 (1) of the Evidence Act, 2011, to support his argument that a document can be tendered by a public officer of a government agency on official duty adding that there was no need to pay any legal fee for such documents.
Justice Ogunbanjo, however, discountenanced the argument of the third defendant’s counsel, stating that whoever is tendering a document that the required fees was not paid can go back to pay the fees while the evidence can be admitted.
“The documents are relevant to this court and on basis of this relevance, I hereby admit them in evidence 52”, she said.
After the prosecution witness identified the account statement of the NBC, he went ahead to describe how the funds were moved out in spurious manner.
According to him, the sum of N34 billion was paid by MTN into an account of the NBC but that he was surprised that the first and second defendants made transfers to the account of Technology Advisors, despite the directive of the Federal Government that all accounts of MDAs are to be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the counsel to third defendant, Paul Erokoro, SAN, moved motion for release of his client’s international passport to enable him travel to the United States for a follow- up treatment on his heart related ill-health.
Justice Ogunbanjo granted the third defendant leave to travel out of the country within a period of two months and must return on or before 30th of August, 2019 and ordered that his passport be returned to the Deputy Registrar of the court. She also ordered that his surety must depose to an affidavit in that regard.
Justice Ogunbanjo admitted the statement of the account as Exhibit 53 and adjourned the hearing to 24 and 25 September, 2019, for continuation of trial.
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