I Forfeited N535m to FG, EFCC Witness Tells Court

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By Alex Enumah

A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Titus Okurinboye, on Tuesday revealed that he forfeited the sum of N535m cash to the federal government over alleged breach of trust as a Public Officer.

Okurinboye, made the disclosure under cross examination in the trial of former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Mr Kabiru Turaki, SAN, and three others.

Outside the sum forfeited, Okurinboye, also admitted that he refunded another sum of N20m to the EFCC, as part of illicit funds gotten from his businesses linked to the account of his ministry.

Okurinboye had appeared before Justice Inyang Ekwo to testify in the fraud charges brought against Turaki, his Personal Secretary, Mr Sampson Okpetu and two companies, Samtee Essentials Limited and Pasco Investment Limited, who are standing trial on 16 count charges bordering on fraud and mis-appropriation to the tune of N714.6m while Turaki served as Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs.

Under cross examination by Joe Gadzama, SAN, lead counsel to Turaki, the witness informed the court that he floated four different companies, Pinnacle Energy Limited, BoyeTom Nigeria Limited, Everton Nigeria Limited and Overwhelming Pinnacle company to undertake various contracts while on the pay roll of the federal government.

The witness admitted that his conduct was against the ethics of his profession and that of the Code of Conduct for public officers, adding that, he forfeited the N535m cash when the EFCC obtained a final forfeiture Order from court.

When asked by Gadzama whether he is standing trial or has been charged over his alleged criminal offences, he answered in the negative adding that his investigation by the EFCC was still on going.

Answering another question, the witness said Turaki as a minister then never instructed him to make any payment from the N359m sensitization fund and that no kobo was paid into the ex minister’s account.

Besides, Okurinboye also admitted that he bought a house at EFAB Estate in Abuja with the illicit funds in addition to a Toyota Camry car at the cost of N4m.

He however denied that one EFCC operative, Mr Belloji Adama, instigated him to give evidence against Turaki so as to escape trial in his own indictment.

Earlier, in his Evidence in Chief, the witness informed the court that the sum of N359m was transferred into the ministry’s account with Zenith Bank, in 2015 for the purpose of sensitizing Islamic groups in the country.

He said that the sensitization project was earmarked for Mr Abdullahi Bagudu, a former Special Assistant on Islamic Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan and on whose memo the amount was approved.

Okurinboye informed the court that about N200m out of the N359m was paid through various companies and individuals without due process of financial regulations.

Under cross examination by Mr Ayo Ajibade, SAN, lead counsel to the second defendant, the witness admitted that money was paid into his private companies when he did not participate in the sensitization of the Islamic groups.