Nigeria – A Prosecution Witness in the ongoing N714.6m alleged fraud trial of a former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, SAN, alongside his personal assistant and two other companies before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has told the court that due process was not followed in the payment of funds to beneficiaries of a purported sensitization programme.
At the resumed consecutive sitting, which began on September 21, 2020, Vincent Odafe who is a former director of finance in the Federal Ministry of Special Duties, while being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Farouk Abdullah told the court that no documents were presented to support the payment of N359m to beneficiaries.
He recalled how the then Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Tahir Haruna, invited him to his office and told him that he was expecting some money from the Federal Ministry of Finance for a special assignment and gave him a list of accounts to be paid.
The witness said that he informed the Permanent Secretary that he needed more documents to support the payments and not a piece of paper.
Odafe revealed that the request had no Authority to Incur Expenditure, AIE, and that there was no specific title on what to spend the money on.
Explaining further, Odafe said because of his insistence on proper documentation, the permanent secretary reported him to the minister and returned with a suggestion that the payments should be made for a special project for which the minister would later present the relevant documents.
Odafe further said that he appointed one Okunriboye Titus, central pay officer, as the project officer, but told him that the approval will come from the minister as directed by the Permanent Secretary and instructed him to keep a Memoranda Cash Book for records, the list of everyone paid and any document they sign in case of auditing; and payments were afterwards effected.
When presented with some documents which included proposal for consultancy service for sensitization programme, letter of acceptance of award of contract, letter of job completion and request for payment, including the signed documents for the award of the contract which was signed by Tahir Haruna, Odafe said that those documents did not come to him when payments were made, adding that if they had supplied the documents at the time, the arguments he had with the Permanent Secretary would not have arisen.
He insisted that only a sheet of paper was given to him, adding that the Permanent Secretary was not the person to sign the contract but director of procurement.
Two other witnesses, a compliance officer with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), Agunbi Ade Adewale, and another compliance officer with Fidelity Bank, Mavis Enabulele also testified.
Adewale, told the court that his bank forwarded the account opening package, account statement and certificate of identification for four of their customers, to the EFCC following a request by the Commission.
He listed the account holders as Halima Kabiru Turaki, Samson Okpetu, Abubakar Sani Kure and Spring Hill Limited. The documents containing the details of the account holders were admitted as exhibits.
Also, Fidelity bank, compliance officer, Enabulele, told the court that sometimes in June, 2020, the EFCC wrote to his bank and requested for account opening package, account statement and certificate of identification of two account holders, Turaki Tanimu Kabiru and Halima Kabiru Turaki, which they obliged the Commission.
All the documents, as stated by EFCC image maker, Wilson Uwujaren were tendered and admitted as exhibits.
Justice Ekwo, adjourned further hearing till November 9, 10 and 11, 2020.