Commercial Law

Federal Pay Officer narrates how he forfeited N535m to FG over contract scam

By Olalekan Awojodu

Abuja

A Civil Servant with the Federal government, Mr Okunrinboye Titus Tuesday told a Federal High Court in Abuja how he forfeited the sum of N535m cash to the Federal government when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), investigated his profile.

Okunrinboye who was under cross-examination said he refunded another sum of N20m to government purse 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.

He is currently testifying before the trual judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo in the fraud charges brought against former Minister of Special Duties, and former Presidential Aspirant, Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, SAN.

Others in the suit are his Personal Secretary, Mr Sampson Okpetu and two companies, Samtee Essentials Limited and Pasco Investment Limited.

They are standing trial on 16 count charges.

The EFCC put the four defendants on trial for alleged fraud and mis-appropriation of N714.6m when Turaki served as Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs.

Under cross examination by Joe Gadzama, SAN, lead counsel to Turaki, 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 pay roll of the federal government.

The witness 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 N535m cash when the EFCC obtained a final forfeiture order from 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.

According to the witness, 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 which gulped N4m.

He nevertheless said that he was instigated by the EFCC operative, Belloji Adama, 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 further informed the court on how about N200m out of the N359m 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, insisting however that he did participate in the sensitization of the Islamic groups.

The trial judge has since fixed November 11 for continuation of trial.

You should also READ  EFCC arrests bizman, Fasuyi over $2.5m fraud

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