‘How Oronsaye used N190m diverted from govt’
Olubunmi Ojoko, another prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Stephen Oronsaye yesterday told Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja how the former Head of Service used N190 million diverted from the Federal Government.
The witness who is an employee of Access Bank Plc said that she was the officer in charge of the account where the said amount was allegedly kept by Oronsaye in his capacity as the then Chairman, Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Ojoko, who was the second prosecution witness in Oronsaye’s trial before Justice Olasunbo Goodluck, said the account was maintained without the approval of the Accountant General of the Federation and without the knowledge of other members of the committee.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on March 15, arraigned Oronsaye on a two-count charge bordering on the breach of trust between 2013 and 2014 and defrauding the government of N190 million using his position as the then Chairman of the Presidential Committee on FATF.
Ojoko was called to the witness box after the first prosecution witness, Ngunnan Kakwagh, an EFCC investigating officer, was cross-examined by the defence team led by Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN).
Kakwagh had earlier on March 15, alleged that Oronsaye unilaterally operated the Access Bank account in the name of PCFATF and received N240 million into the account from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In her account, yesterday, Ojoko, who was led in evidence by the lead prosecution counsel, Mr. Ufom Uket, narrated how Oronsaye opened the Access Bank account on behalf of the PCFATF in 2012, without obtaining an approval from the Accountant General of the Federation.
She said: “He, Oronsaye, called me that he needed to open an account on behalf of the PCFAT. I met him at his residence in Asokoro, where I handed him the documents for the account opening, including the Access Bank account opening request for the committee which were signed by him.
“He also submitted his passport photograph, copy of his passport and documents that set up the committee by the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“I scrutinised the documents and discovered that the Accountant General of the Federation’s approval was not included.
“So I asked him for it and he said it was not necessary. I asked for the Accountant General of the Federation’s approval because it was needed when opening a government account. Since he said that it was not necessary, I took him by his word. I took the documents to the bank and the account was opened.”
She further confirmed that she never met any other member of the committee, including Mr. Jalal Arabi, a counsel in the Presidential Villa, who served as the secretary to the committee, throughout the period the account was operated.
According to her, there were a total of four lodgments into the account from the CBN and other depositors.
She also told the court that the lodgments summed up to N285 million, part of which was invested in a fixed deposit while part of the interests that accrued was re-invested.
She added that at the time the account was closed, Oronsaye had withdrawn about N150 million which was partly the accrued interests on the investments, through cheques which he allegedly issued in favour of himself and various beneficiaries.
“Besides the direct withdrawals by Oronsaye, there were other various beneficiaries. The first transfer was N50 million in October 2012; the second was in April 2012, N90 million from the CBN. In May 2013, there was a cash lodgment of N45 million. The fourth lodgment of N100 million came in December 2014 from CBN.
“After the first lodgment of N50 million, several cheques were drawn by Oronsaye, in favour of various beneficiaries.
“The second inflow of N90 million was invested in fixed deposit account. It was fixed in Banker’s Acceptance which is a form of investment for 90 days at nine per cent interest rate. On maturity, the N45 million, which was the third inflow had come and it was fixed for 90 days.”
She continued: “Upon maturity, the investments were usually rolled over on the instruction of Mr. Oronsaye and the interest was credited into his current account.
“The N100 million, the fourth inflow, came in December 2014 and it was placed in fixed deposit in Banker’s Acceptance for 90 days.
“The total investments and roll overs were about 28 and about N150 million interest accrued on all the investments.
“Now the account is at zero balance after the N163.5 million in it was transferred to the Treasury Single Account.”
The witness was led to read from the statement of the account which was tendered and admitted by the court without any objection from the defence.
Giving the breakdown of the cash withdrawals from the account, she said: “On September 20, 2013, there was a cheque withdrawal of N900,000 in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
“On October 31, 2013, there was a cheque withdrawal of N500,000 in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On December 12, 2013, there was a cash withdrawal of N3 million in favour of Mr. Stepehen Oronsaye.
“On December 23, 2013, there was another withdrawal of N3 million in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On January 29, 2014, there was another withdrawal of N3 million in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
“On February 3, 2014, there was a withdrawal of N3 million by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On February 17, 2014, there was a withdrawal of N600,000 by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
“On April 8, 2014, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye withdrew N3 million with cheque. On July 3, 2014, there was withdrawal of N3 million by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
“On July 10, 2014, there was withdrawal of N3 million by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On October 30, 2014, N900,000 was withdrawn by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
“On December, 17, 2014, there was N3 million withdrawal by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On December 22, 2014, the sum of N950,000 was withdrawn by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
“On December 24, 2014, there was withdrawal of N980,000 by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye . On January 6, 2015, there was N2 million withdrawal by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
“On March 16, 2015, the sum of N650,000 was withdrawn by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On March 20, 2015, there was N3 million withdrawal by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.”
At the end of her testimony, the account opening package, bank statements, mandate documents raised by Oronsaye and other documents relating to the account were admitted as exhibits.
The judge adjourned the case to today for cross examination of the witness.