Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Jalal Arabi ,on Thursday told Justice Olasunbo Goodluck of an Abuja High Court that a former Head of Service (HoS), Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, allegedly paid millions of naira to people who did no work for the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force .
The prosecution witness, who was the secretary of the committee told the court that apart from Zenith Bank Plc, which was the official bank of the committee, Orosanye secretly opened another account with Access bank, with him as the only signatory to the account.
He said laid down procedures were followed in justifying any money spent on any programme of the committee, adding that he raised memos for the programmes of the committee and fund was provided, following the approval of the chairman and, “we fund programmes from the Zenith Bank account and sometimes, from the endeavour of the chairman (Orosanye), which I got to know in July, 2015 that the money comes from the secret Access Bank account, sometimes”.
The witness said between 2009 and 2015, there were inflows of money into the Zenith bank account of the committee in three tranches, from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Budget Office and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) respectively.
When led to read from the statement of account obtained from the Access Bank, he said, “In October 14, 2012, the sum of N5 million was paid to one Friday Onoja, N9 million was paid same Friday Onoja on November 11, 2012, And another N3.5 million in the same month.
“Friday Onoja is neither a member of the committee nor did any work for the committee that I know.
“On 6th November, Sunday Oge was paid, N9 million, paid another N9 million on 14th November, N7 million on 21sr November 2012 and on15th January, 2015, another N500. 000 was paid to him without doing any work for the committee.
“On November 27, 2012, Olalekan Ajayi was paid N6million, Mohammed Yaro was paid N500. 000 on 31st October, 2013 and another N900.000 on 14th March, 2015, for doing nothing for the committee.
“Am aware of the N400.000 paid to Udummi Jude Ikechukwu on 24th March, 2015, but not aware of the N5 million, N11.4 million paid to Ezeneka E.N on 23, December, 2014 and March 13, 2015 respectively”, the witness stated adding also that Orosanye did not inform him of the secret Access Bank account he opened in the name of the committee.
According to the witness, the committee, in its efforts to fastrack the passage into law of relevant bills pending in the National Assembly (NASS), engaged members of the Assembly in dialogues and that the activities were funded from the Zenith Bank account.
The prosecution, at the end of the witness’ testimony prayed the court for an adjournment, saying that there were five more witnesses to be called by the prosecution.
Justice Goodluck then adjourned the matter till May 19 and 20, 2016 for continuation of trial and ordered the prosecution to assemble all its witnesses at the next adjourned date.
Orosanye was charged under section 14 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and section 1(1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
The fraud offences were said to be punishable under 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied any wrong doing.