Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A prosecution witness and a civil servant with the Federal Government, Mr Okunrinboye Titus, on Tuesday told the Abuja division of the Federal High Court that he forfeited the sum of N535 million cash to the Federal Government when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), investigated his profile.
He further disclosed how he refunded another sum of N20 million to the government when his activities as a Special Pay Officer in the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs were investigated by the anti-graft agency.
Okunrinboye made the revelations while testifying before Justice Inyang Ekwo, in the fraud charges brought against former presidential aspirant, Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, SAN, his Personal Secretary, Mr Sampson Okpetu and two companies, Samtee Essentials Limited and Pasco Investment Limited, who are standing trial on 16 count charges.
The defendants are standing trial for alleged fraud and mis-appropriation of N714.6 million while Turaki served as Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs.
Under cross-examination by counsel to Turaki, Joe Kyari-Gadzama, SAN, the witness informed the court that he floated four different companies, Pinnacle Energy Limited, BoyeTom Nigeria Limited, Everton Nigeria Limited and Overwhelming Pinnacle company to undertake various contracts while still on the payroll of the Federal Government.
He admitted that his conduct was against the ethics of his profession and that of the Code of Conduct for public officers, adding that he forfeited the N535 million cash when the EFCC obtained a final forfeiture order from the court against him.
Answering a question, Okunrinboye told the court that he has not been charged to any court for any crime because the investigation into his activities by EFCC was still ongoing.
Answering another question, the witness said Turaki as a Minister then, never instructed him to make any payment from the N359m sensitization fund and that no kobo was paid into the ex Minister’s account.
Besides, Okunrinboye also admitted that he bought a house at EFAB Estate in Abuja with illicit funds in addition to a Toyota Camry car at the cost of N4 million.
He, however, denied the allegation that the EFCC operative, Belloji Adama, instigated him to give evidence against Turaki for him to escape trial in his own indictment.
Earlier, in his Evidence in Chief, the witness informed the court that a sum of N359m was transferred into the Ministry’s account with Zenith Bank in 2015 for the purpose of sensitizing Islamic groups in the country to vote for former President Goodluck Jonathan .
He said that the sensitization project was approved for Mr Abdullahi Tahir Bagudu, a former Special Assistant on Islamic Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan and on whose memo the amount was approved.
Okunrinboye informed the court how about N200 million out of the N359 million was paid out through various companies and individuals without due process of financial regulations.
Answering a question from Mr Ayo Ajibade, SAN, lead counsel to the second defendant, Sampson Okpetu, the witness admitted that money was paid into his private companies although he did participate in the sensitization of the Islamic groups.
Meanwhile, the trial continues on November 11.