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N787m Contract Scam: EFCC Protests UBEC Directors’ Move To Stall Trial

Source: africanexaminer.com

Abuja Fri. Feb. 19, 2010 African Examiner -The stage was set for the commencement of

the trial of four directors of Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, and three

others as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC stormed the court

with all six witnesses put together for the prosecution.

The expectation was however dashed when the defence counsel came up with an

application to stall the trial.
The prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu who had arrived the court alongside the six

witnesses ready for the commencement of the trial however expressed his shock to the

trial judge, Justice Adamu Bello over a fresh plot by the defence counsel to delay the

trial through an application seeking to quash the 64 count charge against the seven

accused persons.
The EFCC had filed an amended 64 count charge against Prof. Bridget Omotunde

Sokan, former Executive Secretary of UBEC and three directors including Molkat

Manasseh Mutfwang, Michael Mtonga Aule and Dr Andrew Ekpunobi.

Three other accused are Intermarkets USA; Intermarkets Nigeria Limited and Alexander

John Cozma, a foreign contractor.
When the matter came up for hearing Thursday, the prosecution counsel told the court

that counsel to the 4th, 5th and 6th accused( Intermarkets USA, Intermarkets Nig. Ltd

and Alexander Cozma) had filed an application which was served on him in court to

quash the charges. He said he was in court to proceed with the trial of the case as he

has all his witnesses present in court. He descrided the defence application as an

attempt to ambush justice.
Counsel to the 4th, 5th and the 6th accused persons, J. O Ogundeye confirmed the

application to quash the case but expressed regret that the short notice was due to the

fact that they applied to certify some of the documents attached to the application since

February 2, 2010 but were not able to get approval until three days ago.

He further stated that the prosecution counsel also served him with an additional proof

of evidence which is about 100 pages and as such he needed to time to file a further

affidavit.
Barrister I .k Ijomah, counsel to the 3rd accused alleged that he will also be applying for

the charges to be quashed like the 4th 5th and 6th accused persons had proposed.

The counsel to the 7th accused person, Barrister B J Akomolafe in his own case alleged

that the order given at the last sitting authorizing EFCC to return the passport of the 7th

accused(Prof. Sokan) has not been complied with . However, counsel to EFCC,

countered him and told the court that the anti-graft agency had requested for a written

order from the court before the release of the passport.

Justice Adamu Bello agreed with the EFCC counsel stressing that a written order was

required for the release of the passport. After a long deliberation among the counsel, a

date was agreed upon after which Justice Bello till March 30, 2010, to take arguments

on the fresh application. Apart from Prof Sokan and Intermarkets Nigeria Limited, the

five other accused persons were first arraigned on May 19, 2009 on a 26 count charge

but were later granted bail. The 64 amended charges were later filed against all the

seven accused persons on December 10, 2009.
Part of the amended 64 count charge reads “That you (1) Molkat Manasseh Mutfwang

'm',(2) Michael Mtonga Aule (m) ,(3)Dr Andrew Nnamdi Ekpunobi(m),(4) Professor

Bridget Sokan(f) sometimes in November,2005 at the Universal Basic Education

Commission (UBEC),no 7,gwani street, Wuse zone 4 Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this

honorable court acting as public servants and in those capacities to wit: The Deputy

Director Planning ,Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC),the procurement

officer, Universal Basic Education Commission(UBEC),director planning and information

management, universal basic education commission(UBEC),the deputy executive

secretary services universal basic education commission(UBEC),respectively, WITH

INTENT TO DEFRAUD THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA, fraudulently

obtained in favor of Intermarkets USA LLC, Intermarkets Nigeria ltd and Alexander John

Cozma the sum of six hundred and thirty six million, two hundred and eighty four

thousand, one hundred and sixty naira (N636,284,160.00) from universal basic

education commission (UBEC),Abuja ,wrongfully purporting same to be meant for the

supply of 109,440 pieces of plastic chairs/desks with the willful knowledge that

chairs/desks remained banned by the Federal Government at all materials times and

thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 1(1) (a) (b), 1

(2) and (3) of Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act,2006.”

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