- A former minister and two others are being tried by the EFCC for for allegedly collecting N450 million from former petrol minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in 2015
- During the trial at the Jos Federal High Court, a prosecution witness told the court how the accused withdrew the money in cash from a bank
- According to the witness, the three accused were given the cash on March 26, 2015
A prosecution witness, Annette Gyen, on Monday, April 16, revealed before a Jos Federal High Court how a former water resources minister, Sarah Ochekpe, and two others withdrew N450 million cash from Fidelity Bank Plc.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ochekpe, and the two others, Raymond Dabo who is a former chairman of the PDP in Plateau, and Leo Sunday Jatau, the coordinator of former president Goodluck Jonathan campaign in Plateau, are being tried by the EFCC for allegedly collecting N450 million from former petrol minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in 2015.
The report said the anti-graft agency is alleging that the trio collected N450 million from one Annette Olije-Gyen, operation manager of Fidelity Bank, which exceeded the amount authorised by law.
The EFCC has further alleged that the offence contravened sections 18 (a)(d), 1 (a), 16(1)(d), and was punishable under section 16 (2) of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012, (as amended).
In her testimony, Olije-Gyen told the court that her boss, who was the then group divisional head of operations, Martins Ezuogbe, directed the bank cashiers to disburse the money to the trio.
“On March 26, 2015, we obediently called the trio, who came to our office and were given the money. After confirming the money, we gave them our bullion van with which they conveyed it,” she said adding that on January 8, 2017, the bank received a letter from EFCC asking for details of the transaction.
“On January 11, we responded to that request,” she said.
The report said the request of the prosecuting counsel, Ahmed Munchaka, that the two letters be tendered as evidence was, however, vehemently rejected by the defence lawyers.
Gyang Zi and SO Oyewale, lawyers to Ochekpe, Jatau and Dabo, argued that the letters should not be admitted because they were not original copies.
“The bank should have produced original copies of the letters; the court cannot work with photocopies because they might have been tampered with. We can only accept original copies,” they argued.
Munchaka, however, insisted that the letters be admitted since they had been authenticated by all parties.
“The letters are acceptable in law because they have been authenticated; they are as good as original copies,” he argued adding that the documents should be admitted because they were “very vital letters in evidence.”
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Justice Musa Kurya adjourned the case till May 17, and May 18, for ruling on whether or not to admit the letters, and continuation of hearing.
NAIJ.com earlier reported that the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday fixed April 30 to rule on an application, seeking the forfeiture of two properties belonging to Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan to the federal government.
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