I wasn’t privy to Oronsaye’s secret account, says witness
The Secretary, Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Jalal Arabi, said yesterday that he was not privy to the Access Bank account opened by the Chairman, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
Testifying before Justice Olasunbo Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Arabi, a Permanent Secretary in the State House, told the court that he was only aware of the committee’s Zenith Bank account.
According to him, even though the Access Bank’s account was opened in the name of the committee, the defendant was a sole signatory unlike the Zenith Bank account where two members of the committee were signatories.
He added that even as the secretary to the committee, he became aware of the Access Bank account only in July last year following an investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and as such, he never raised any memo concerning funds in the bank account.
He, however, stated that there were some activities personally funded by the chairman and which he suspected might be from the said bank account.
When asked by the prosecution counsel, Ofem Uket, the account that was used to fund the activities of the committee, the witness said: “As I said earlier, I never got to know about the Access Bank account until July. But I must say that the chairman used to fund some activities. It was later I came to know that it was from Access Bank he was funding some of the activities. All other payments came from Zenith Bank.”
He further told the court that the personal funding of the committee’s activities by the chairman was often but memos were also generated often for re-imbursement.
The witness also told the court that since the committee was inaugurated in 2009, he was only aware of three inflows into the Zenith Bank Plc account, which according to him, came from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the Budget Office as well as from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In the Access Bank Plc statement of account tendered by the prosecution, the witness read that on October 19, 2012, the sum of N5 million was paid to one Friday Ololo.
On November 8, 2012, N9 million was paid to the same Friday Ololo. In December the same year, N3.5 million was also paid to the same Friday Ololo.
The witness told the court that the said Ololo was not a member of the committee, neither did he do any business that warranted payment by the committee.
He went further to read from the account statement that on November 6, 2012, Sunday Ogey was paid N9 million; November 14, N9 million was again paid to the same Ogay; November 21, 2012, Ogay also received N7 million and on January 15, 2013, N800,000 was paid to him. He also affirmed that Ogay was neither a member of the committee nor contractor.
Continuing, the witness told the court that on November 27, 2012, one Olakekan Ajayi was paid N6 million; October 31, 2013, Mr. Mohammed Yaro was paid N500,000 and on March 14, 2013, the same Yaro was paid N900,000.
“He was not a member of the committee and I am not aware he ever worked for the committee,” the witness stated. He continued: “On March 24, 2013, Udumi Ikechukwu was paid N400,000. Though I was aware of the payment, I was not aware the payment was made through Access Bank account.”
Other payments made through the account, the witness said, include the N5 million and N11,450,000 paid to one Eze Nneka on December 23, 2014 and March 13, 2015, respectively. According to him, Eze was not a member of the committee nor did she do any business for the committee.
Earlier, the third prosecution witness, Blaze Ijebor, a Deputy Director, Risk Management Department, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) who was a member of the committee, also denied knowledge of the second account.
The second prosecution witness, Olubunmi Ojoko, who testified on Wednesday was yesterday cross-examined by the defence counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN).
She told the court that though she assisted the defendant in open the account by virtue of her job, she did not know who the beneficiaries were. She also stated that until the investigation into the account began, she never had any issues emanating from it.
After the evidence of the fourth witness, the prosecution counsel asked the court for an adjournment to enable him to prepare and produce the remaining five witnesses.
The case was consequently adjourned till May 19 and 20 for the continuation of the trial.
Oronsaye is facing trial for allegedly defrauding the Federal Government of N190 million using his position as the then chairman of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force.