Kingsley Nweze in Abuja
A prosecution witness, Peter Ademola Adegoke, a Compliance Officer with a new generation bank yesterday told Justice Abdullai M. Liman of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, how the sum of N18bn was paid into the account of a company, Ismalob Global Investments, belonging to Ismaila Mustapha, also known as Mompha
Mompha was arraigned on November 25, 2019 on a 14-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N33bn.
At today’s sitting, the first prosecution witness, PW1, Anne Nnenna Ezekannagha, a manager in the Customers Service Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, told the court that Mompha’s company, Ismalob Ventures, was not registered with the CBN and that he did not have the license to operate as a Bureau de Change.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Ezekannagha further told the court that “We got a letter from the EFCC on the activities of Ismalob Global Ventures. “However, we have no history of the name with the CBN.”
In her further evidence, Ezekannagha told the court that any commercial foreign exchange transaction that was not done via an authorised dealer bank, authorised buyer and a BDC was against law.
In his testimony, Adegoke, who is the second prosecution witness, PW2, told the court how the sum of over N18bn was paid into Ismalob’s account on different occasions between December 2015 and October 2019.
When asked by the defence counsel, Gboyega Oyewole, SAN, if the bank, at any time, reported the account for suspicious transactions, Adegoke, responded in the affirmative, saying that the bank reported the account to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU.
Under cross-examination by Oyewole, the PW2, however, stated that he was not aware if the bank received a response from the NFIU.
Giving his evidence, the third prosecution witness PW3, Okafor Ikenna Ignatius, a Bureau de Change Operator, narrated to the court how one of the Directors at Ismalob Global Ventures had interacted with him on foreign exchange at his base in Benin, Edo State.
“One of the Directors at Ismalob Investments, Alhaji Ahmadu Mohammed, used to come buy Euros from us in Benin.
“After negotiations, he would make payments into my account through Ismalob account.
“I received over N300, 000,000 (Three Hundred Million Naira) from Ismalob Investments into IK Global on foreign exchange negotiation,” he told the court.
During today’s proceedings, the defence counsel, Oyewole, sought bail for his client and also prayed the court to grant him bail on the most liberal terms.
Oyewole told the court that his client “is not a flight risk and all the claims by the EFCC were just speculative.”
In his response, Oyedepo submitted that “bail is at the discretion of the court.
“The defendant is still under investigation and he may tamper with the witnesses in the case.”
He, therefore, urged the court not to accede to the applications of the defendant for bail.
Justice Liman admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N100 Million and one surety in like sum.
The surety must have a landed property in Lagos, which would be verified by the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court.
A statement by EFCC said the accused was also ordered to depose his passport with the court and report at the EFCC every 14 days.
The matter was adjourned to January 8, 2020 for continuation of trial.
Enugu to Spend N2.4bn on Road, School Projects
The Enugu State Executive Council presided over by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has approved over N2.4 billion to tackle rural roads and provision of various infrastructure across the state.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, Commissioner for Information, Nnanyelugo Chidi Aroh, stated that the council awarded contract for the rehabilitation of Orie Market-Nkwo Ida-Afor Inyi Road Junction in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area at the cost of 295,377,187.88.
Aroh, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Greg Nnaji and their Budget and Economic Planning counterpart, Dr. David Ngwunta, added that the council also approved the rehabilitation/construction of Ekulumili Street, New Haven, Enugu and access/internal roads at St. Theresa’s Cathedral, Nsukka, at the sum of N69,470,940.00 and N80,198,233.50, respectively.
Also awarded was the Onuiyi Beach-Umuano-Ibagwa Road, Nsukka, which the Information Commissioner noted had been awarded earlier, but was cancelled and rewarded by the council at the cost of N275,774,481.29.
Aroh, who disclosed that the council specifically deliberated extensively on the 2020 budget proposal which would be present to the State Assembly soon, added that it also approved the sum of N1,518,682,000.00 as the state government’s counterpart fund for the Universal Basic Education scheme to enable it access the federal government funds for the construction and renovation of more primary and junior secondary school buildings in the state. Also approved according to the commissioner was N100 million for the Ministry of Agriculture as logistics for the branding and marketing of Coal City Rice to be purchased from registered local farmers in the state at a standardised price, which will be sold to the public at a fair and affordable price “especially at this festive period”.
Aroh, who noted the state government had a long-term plan for massive rice milling and processing, explained that the council’s decision to act as “off-taker” for the rice produced by the farmers was to encourage and protect their businesses, stressing that “we have provided the enabling environment for the production of rice”.
He added that the council after discussion with the leadership of the Organised Labour in the state set up a joint committee to deal with the issues arising from the consequential adjustment of the new Minimum Wage, to be headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Simon Uchenna Ortuanya.
According to him, “we have five representatives of the state government and five representatives of the labour. The committee is charged to immediately consider all issues arising from the new Minimum Wage; agree on consequential adjustment to the salaries and wages of workers and also consider the realities of implementation of this consequential adjustment in line with our known practice of paying salaries regularly and also the 13th month salary”.
The council upon consideration of a memo from the Ministry of Education, equally approved the immediate upgrade of facilities at Boy’s High School Orba and Youth Centre Mpu, Aninri LGA for the full take off as Army Command Science School and Army Command Technical College, respectively.
Aroh further disclosed that the council awarded contract for perimeter fencing of all the Magistrate and High Courts in the state and approved a proposal for infrastructural development of 24 hectares of land acquired by the State Ministry of Housing for housing projects “to be described as Independence Layout phase two extension, Enugu”.
The housing proposal, which is in line with the state government’s drive to provide more affordable houses for the people of the state, according to Aroh, was presented by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing, Ikenna Nwodo together with the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Obiora Onugwu.
The information commissioner revealed that the council “considered with great joy and approved a reception in honour of Mrs. Josephine Ugwu, an indigene of Enugu State, Obukpa in Nsukka LGA, and a staff of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) who recently received a presidential handshake and an integrity certificate award from the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) for her honesty and dedication to work, having returned various sums of money she recovered while on duty including the latest twelve thousand US dollars.
“In recognition of this good feat and in our commitment to continue to encourage people to live honest life, believing that honesty is rewarded in all things, the state government has approved the reception in her honour and to give her a certificate of honour and integrity to show its support and happiness with her display of honesty”, Aroh said.
On the budget, the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Dr. Ngwunta, further explained that the EXCO will reconvene on Monday to tidy up the processes, pointing out that “we had a stakeholder forum, on Tuesday, where the stakeholders from the CSOs, the traditional rulers and presidents-general made inputs in the 2020 budget proposal”.