N2.2 Billion Fraud: EFCC to file additional evidence

Source: pointblanknews.com

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja Wednesday granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) leave, for an additional proof of evidence in the on-going trial of the former Director General of the National Gallery of Arts (NGA), Joe Musa.

The additional proof of evidence granted EFCC by Justice Olukayode Adeniyi is a management letter on the financial statements of the Gallery for the year ended December 31 , 2008 by a firm of chartered accountants.

Prosecution counsel, Steve Odiase, in his affidavit in support of a motion on notice, sought an order to grant leave to the applicant/ complainant to file additional proof of evidence in the case, an order deeming the attached additional proof of evidence as being properly filed and served, and for such further orders as the court may deem fit to make under the circumstances.

Odiase, in the seven-paragraph affidavit in support, had told the court “that following the re-assessment of the case file, some evidential documents were discovered in the file".

The audit report revealed that some accounts were debited with various sums of money, which were lumped together and not properly analysed or easily matched with specific payment vouchers.

It held that too many accounts or transactions were grouped and posted as one account-head without sufficient details.

The audit report further stated that staff advances on the ledger of the gallery “neither followed our observations nor implemented the

recommendations in our previous year's report”. It also showed that lapses noticeable in 2007 audit still existed in the 2008 financial year . All the defence counsel in court did not oppose the application for an additional proof of evidence.

A principal witness, Mr. Festus Chidi, had earlier told the court that international training for managerial staff for which over N65 million was appropriated and approved by the ex-director general allegedly did not take place.

The witness alleged that other ghost projects the former art gallery boss initiated to loot funds as shown in the proof of evidence before the court include the Berlin Art conference in which the sum of N26.5 million was misappropriated.

Other areas of alleged fraud, which the witness had pointed out was the misappropriation of the sum of N64, 350,500.00 for professional training, capacity building and manpower development when virtually nobody was trained as well as the misappropriation of the sum of N15 million for management retreat when the retreat did not take place.

Chidi also told the court that the former DG further opened two illegal and fraudulent accounts with Spring Bank and Oceanic Bank in which he diverted the agency's funds for his personal use.

Earlier in April, 2010, the Assistant Chief Research Officer of the NGA, Dubem Egbunike, during cross examination, had told the court that over N160 million was allegedly diverted into the private pockets of the DG and top echelon of the NGA.

The witness had also alleged that although the staff salaries of NGA in a month stood at about N 15.5 million naira, but that the DG inflated it to the tune of N19.27 million monthly. The witness had also alleged that each of the accused persons took home N5 million each for fictitious expenses using fake receipts for retirement, as instructed by Joe Musa.

The third accused person, Dr. Tandoh, was also said to have been given the sum of N13 million for an exhibition that never took place, and diverted the sum of N7 million for his personal use and returned only N6 million to the coffers of the NGA. The first accused, Musa was also alleged to have acquired a house at Constitution Road Kaduna at the cost of N18 million and rented to the NGA for N5 million annually.

Another property owned by him in Auchi, Edo state, was equally said to be valued at over N700 million. The case was adjourned to March 28, 2011 for continuation of hearing.