Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday closed its case against a former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, who is being prosecuted on charges of criminal breach of trust involving alleged diversion of N382.9m belonging to the Federal Government.
The sixth and the last prosecution witness, Mr. Hammaadama Bello, concluded his testimony under cross-examination by two defence lawyers, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) and Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN), before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja.
Bello said on Tuesday that Oronsaye received N50m in cash from the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.) in breach of the threshold set by the anti-money laundering law.
He insisted that the secret bank account with which Oronsaye allegedly diverted the total sum of N382.9m in the name of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force, was not authorised by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
In the amended seven counts preferred against the accused person, he was accused of criminal breach of trust involving allegations that between 2013 and 2015 he converted the total sum of N382.9m belonging to the committee to his personal use.
The EFCC alleged that Oronsaye sourced the sum of N382.9m from the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Office of the National Security Adviser in the name of the PCFATF and deposited it in a secret account with Access Bank Plc without the knowledge of other members of the committee.
The prosecution alleged that Oronsaye invested the money at nine per cent interest rate in the said secret account which he allegedly opened and operated unilaterally as the sole signatory unknown to other committee members.
It said the only account of the PCFATF known to all members of the committee and which Oronsaye and the then secretary to the committee, Mr. Jalal Arabi (now Permanent Secretary, Presidential State House), were its co-signatories was the one kept with Zenith Bank Plc.
The prosecution told the trial judge, Justice Olasunbo Goodluck that the alleged offences were contrary to section 311 and punishable under section 315 of the Penal Code Act.
Fielding questions from Agabi on Tuesday, Bello insisted that the N50m, part of the N382.9m allegedly diverted, came from the funds meant for the procurement of arms by the ONSA.
Responding to a question, the witness said the NSA was wrong to have given such money in cash to Oronsaye.
The witness said after Oronsaye received the money, he (Oronsaye) made structured payments in five transactions of N9m each amounting to N45m to the secret account with Access Bank and kept the balance of N5m in hand.
Bello said the committee in whose name the defendant received the N50m from ONSA never got the money.
He said Oronsaye also failed to justify the spending of the money on behalf of the committee when asked to do so.
Bello said the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation when asked about the accounts operated by the PCFATF, it only sent the Zenith Bank account with details of funds legitimately paid into it.
He also insisted that contrary to the situation in Oronsaye’s case when the former Head of Service served as the sole signatory to the account opened in the name of a Federal Government’s committee, there must be at least two signatories to such account.
He added, “I interviewed Mr. Jalal Arabi, the secretary to the Presidential Committee on FATF and the then State House counsel, and he told me that himself as the secretary and Mr. Stephen Oronsaye as the Chairman were signatories to the committee’s account.
Justice Goodluck later adjourned till December 9 for the defence to open its case