Oronsaye Defrauded FG of N190 Million, EFCC Tells Court
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday told Justice Olasumbo Goodluck, of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory how former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, operated a ‘secret’ bank account for the Presidential Committee on the Financial Action Task Force in 2012. EFCC through its witness, Ms. Ngunna Kakwagh, who was led in evidence by prosecution counsel, O. Uket told the court how the ex-Head of Service unilaterally operated an Access Bank account in the name of the presidential committee between 2012 and 2014 and received payments from Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, through the account without the knowledge of other members.
Earlier, Oronsaye was arraigned before Justice Goodluck on a fresh two-count charge bordering on fraud where he pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against him. The Federal Government accused Oronsaye of compromising his position as Chairman of the presidential committee by illegally diverting N190m, being part of the N240m grant, which the committee received from CBN. After Oronsaye took his not guilty plea, Mr. Uket, urged the court to remand him, pending the commencement of trial. However, Oronsaye’s counsel, Mr. Joe Agi, SAN, opposed the prosecution’s request for adjournment, saying the administration of the Criminal Justice Act, 2015 demands day to day trial after the arraignment of an accused person. Consequently, the EFCC called its first witness, Ms. Kakwagh who testified. Kakwagh gave a vivid account of how Oronsaye opened and operated the secret account, adding that the former HoS was the sole signatory.
“The account opening signature and documents were analysed. We found the account name was Presidential Committee, while means of identification was later identified to be the international passport photograph of Oronsaye. “Further analysis showed that it was opened in 2012 with a request from Oronsaye to the bank manager of Access Bank which he signed as chairman. “The account was found to have had three financial transfers from CBN and N45m deposit by Oronsaye. “First transfer was N50m in October 2012, second transfer N90m in May 2012, third transfer was N9m in five places,” Kakwagh revealed.
She further disclosed that the petitioner, Stephen Jalada Alabi, a staff of the State House and a Secretary of the Presidential Committee and Francis Ifeanyi, Head of Nigerian Financial all denied knowledge of the secret account. “Alabi when invited by EFCC stated that the committee maintained an account with Zenith Bank Plc, which he is a co-signatory, adding that he had no knowledge of any Access Bank account,” she further stated. Meanwhile, the court admitted Oronsaye to N10m bail and two sureties at N5m each. The sureties must be at the level of directors in the federal civil service or retired directors, who must be residents of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. Part of the charged read: “Stephen Oronsaye a.k.a. Mr. Steve Oronsaye on or about 12th June, 2013 at Abuja within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory whilst being the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force and in such capacity entrusted with certain property to wit: the sum of N90m committed breach of trust in respect of the said sum by converting it to your personal use through the investment of the said sum of N90m in Access Bank Plc’s Bankers Acceptance for a tenor of 90 days at 9.0 per cent interest rate in violation of the extant financial regulations.
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