N25Bn Scam: EFCC Closes Case Against Igbinedion September 23
SAN FRANCISCO, June 24, (THEWILL) – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, will on September 23, 2013 close its case in the ongoing trial of Michael Igbinedion, younger brother of a former Edo State Governor, Chief Lucky N. Igbinedion.
Igbinedion, Patrick Eboigbodin and four companies: Gava Corporation Limited; Romrig Nigeria Limited; PML Securities Company Limited and PML Nigeria Limited are facing trial at a Federal High Court sitting in Benin-City, Edo State over a N25billion scam.
At the resumed hearing on Friday, June 21, 2013, EFCC called three witnesses.
According to a statement by the EFCC, the first witness, Mr. Ajoyo Sowale, an Accounts Officer with Guaranty Trust Bank, identified various account statements and account opening documents of the accused persons and confirmed the lodgements made into the various accounts. He also told the court that he printed the various account statements and got them certified.
The EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, further led the second witness, Mr. Eriyo Amadiayagbon David who was a Personal Assistant to Micheal Igbinedion in evidence. David told the court how the second accused person, Michael Igbinedion instructed him on several occasions to make lodgements into his GTB accounts and those of Romrig Nigeria Limited and Gava Corporation. According to David, he usually received cash from the Accountant at the Government House and paid into the account of the second accused person, “and after paying the government entourage, the remaining cash is usually given to the ADC to the Governor”. The witness further identified his name on the printed account statement of Michael Igbinedion which is part of the exhibits before the court.
During cross-examination, counsel to the first accused, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, asked the witness if he ever stole government money with the first accused person Mr. Patrick Eboigbodin, and the witness told the court that he never did.
Jacobs, before calling the third witness, prayed the court to grant his plea for the charges to be amended. According to him, the testimony of the third witness centred more on the amendments. He also prayed the court for an adjournment to enable the defence study the amended charge. But Ozekhome immediately objected on the grounds that the amendments could not be accommodated as the prosecution was expected to close his case. Ozekhome also added that the defence was yet to read the charge and confer with their clients. Ricky Tafa, SAN, and Mr. Richard Ahonaruogo both adopted the submissions of Ozekhome.
The presiding judge, Justice J. Liman turned down the application and asked the prosecution to go ahead and call its last witness. The third witness, Abdulahi Hamza, an EFCC operative, provided a detailed account of how the investigations were conducted and how it was discovered that state funds were diverted by the accused persons for other personal purposes.
In his testimony, Hamza told the court that some of the personal purposes for which the funds were utilized, include buying of various shares, and several payments made into the account of Ekpenyong and Sons, a company owned by the first accused person, Patrick Eboigbodin.
Justice Liman then adjourned the case to September 23 and 24, 2013.