Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Another prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of a former Head of Service of the Federation and former Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force, Stephen Orosanye, wednesday told an Abuja High Court how the defendant opened a secret account in the name of the task to divert about N190 million belonging to the federal government.
The witness who is an employee of Access Bank Plc, Olubunmi Ojoko, was led in evidence by the EFCC’s counsel, Ufom Uket, told the court that Orosanye opened the account on behalf of the PCFATF in 2012, without obtaining an approval from the Accountant-General of the Federation.
“He (Oronsaye) called me that he needed to open an account on behalf of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force.
“I met him at his residence in Asokoro, where I handed him the documents for the account, including the Access Bank account opening request of the committee signed by him, his passport photograph, copy of his passport and documents that set up the committee by the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“I scrutinised the documents and discovered that the Accountant-General of the Federation’s approval was not included. So I asked him for it and he said it was not necessary. I asked for the Accountant-General of the Federation’s approval because it is needed when opening a government account. Since he said that it wasn’t necessary, I took him by his word.
“I took the documents to the bank and the account was opened,” she stated.
She further told the court that she never met any other member of the committee, including Mr. Jalal Arabi, a counsel in the Presidential Villa, who served as the secretary to the committee, throughout the period the account was operated.
She added that there were a total of four lodgments into the account from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other cash deposits, adding that the lodgments totalled N285 million, part of which were invested in fixed deposits with part of the interests that accrued re-invested.
Ojoko further stated that at the time the account was closed, Oronsaye had withdrawn from the account about N150m which was partly the accrued interests on the investments, through cheques which he allegedly issued in favour of himself and various beneficiaries
Highlighting the inflow of cash into the account, the witness stated that, “the first transfer was N50million in October 2012. The second in April 2012, was N90million from the CBN. In May 2013, there was another cash lodgment of N45million. The fourth lodgment of N100million came in December 2014 from CBN.
“After the first lodgment (of N50million from CBN) several cheques were drawn by the defendant (Oronsaye). In favour various beneficiaries.
“The second inflow of N90million was invested in fixed deposit account. It was fixed in Banker’s Acceptance which is a form of investment, for 90 days at nine per cent. On maturity, the N45m (the third inflow) had come and it was fixed for 90 days.
“Upon maturity, they (the investments) were usually rolled over on the instruction of Oronsaye and the interest were credited into his current account.
“The N100million (the fourth inflow) came in December 2014 and it was placed in fixed in Banker’s Acceptance for 90 days.
“The total of investments and roll overs were about 28. About N150million interests accrued on all the investments.
“Now the account is at zero balance after the N163.5million in it was transferred to the Treasury Single Account.”
The witness was led to read from the statement of the account which was tendered and admitted by the court without any objection from the defence.
Ojoko while giving the breakdown of the cash withdrawals from the account, said: “On September 20, 2013 -there was a cheque withdrawal of N900,000 in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
“On October 31, 2013, there was a cheque withdrawal of N500,000 in favour of Oronsaye. On December 12, 2013, there was a cash withdrawal of N3m in favour of Oronsaye. On December 23, 2013, there was another withdrawal of N3million in favour of Oronsaye.
“On January 29, 2014, there was another withdrawal of N3million in favour of Oronsaye. On February 3, 2014, there was a withdrawal of N3million by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On February 17, 2014, there wa a withdrawal of N600,000 by Oronsaye.
“On April 8, 2014, Oronsaye, withdrew N3million with cheque. On July 3, 2014, there was withdrawal of N3m by Oronsaye. On July 10, 2014, there was withdrawal of N3m by Oronsaye. On October 30, 2014, N900,000 was withdrawn by Oronsaye. On December, 17, 2014, there was N3m withdrawal by Oronsaye.
“On December 22, 2014, the sum of N950,000 was withdrawn by Oronsaye. On Decenber 24, 2014, there was withdrawal of N980,000 by Oronsaye. On January 6, 2015, there was N2million withdrawal by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On March 16, 2015, the sum of N650,000 was withdrawn by Oronsaye. On March 20, 2015, there was N3million withdrawal by Oronsaye.”
The account opening package, bank statements, mandate documents raised by Oronsaye and other documents relating to the account were also admitted as exhibits.
The trial judge, Justice Olasumbo Goodluck has adjourned till today for cross-examination of the witness
The EFCC had on March 15, 2016 arraigned Oronsaye on two count charge of breach of trust which he allegedly committed between 2013 and 2014 by defrauding the Federal Government of N190million using his position as the then Chairman of the Presidential Committee on FATF.
Oronsaye was accused of converting the N190million to his personal use through the investment of the fund in Access Bank Plc’s Banker’s Acceptance for a tenor of 90 days at nine and 12 per cents interest rates in violation of the extant financial regulations.