NIGERIA: ‘Ex-gov paid N270m in cash for Abuja property’ – EFCC

21102015C OHAKIM

The Prosecution witness in the trial of former Imo State governor, Ikedi Ohakim, on  Tuesday, October 20, at the resumed hearing, gave a detailed account of how the former governor allegedly made a cash payment of $2, 290,000.00 (Two Million, Two Hundred and Ninety Thousand Dollars), for a piece of land at Plot No. 1098 Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District, otherwise known as No.60, Kwame Nkurumah Street, Asokoro, Abuja.

Ohakim was arraigned on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a three-count charge bordering on money laundering. But was granted bail Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Thursday, July 9, 2015.

The prosecution witness, Ishaya Dauda,  who is a senior detective superintendent with the EFCC, is led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Festus Keyamo.

Dauda said the Commission began investigating Ohakim after it received petitions, in addition to intelligence reports, between 2007 and 2011. Hence, he was invited to the EFCC office in 2013.

‘‘I gave him the petitions to go through and asked him if he would be willing to volunteer statement or not and he answered in the affirmative. I then administered the word of caution and EFCC statement form on him. I also asked him whether he understood the word of caution and he said yes; then, he signed the form, indicating that he understood the word of caution,’’ he told the court.

He further stated that the Commission gave the former governor EFCC Asset Declaration form to fill, in addition to his statements that were obtained five times between 2013 and 2015.

Copies of the five statements, which were obtained on January 25, 2013; January 31, 2013; June 18, 2015; June 22, 2015 and June 29, 2015, were tendered and admitted in evidence as exhibits EFCC 1 to five.

Dauda added that Ohakim made copious statements regarding the said property.

He said, ‘‘Working on the intelligence reports at our disposal, after the accused person had declared his assets, it was discovered that there was no banking transaction for the purchase of the property.

“We found out that only cash payment was made in respect of the property. So, we took the accused person to the property. When we brought him back to our office, we asked him who owns the property and he said he rented the property through one Abu Sule, Managing Director, Tweeenex Consociate H.D. Limited.’’

Dauda said Abu Sule initially denied ownership of the property during interrogation by the EFCC, saying Ohakim gave him $2.2million (N270m at the time) in one payment.

‘‘Abu Sule said he bought the property from one Alhaji Isah Muntair Maidabino. He also said after receiving the money from the accused person at the Imo State Government House in Asokoro, Abuja on a certain night, he made the cash payment to Alhaji Issa Muntair-Maidabino,” he said.

Both the accused person and Abu Sule were said to have entered into a tenancy agreement, so as to give the impression that the former governor had rented the property from Tweeenex Consociate H.D. Limited.

He added: ‘‘Abu Sule also said the accused person issued a Fidelity Bank cheque for N20m as rent for two years. He, however, said that he used the money to renovate the property and another property in Asokoro.’’

During interrogation, Muntair-Maidabino was said to have confirmed receipt of cash payment to the tune of $2.2million from Sule.

He said Ohakim owned up to the ownership of the property after he was confronted with the disclosure by Abu Sule.

Justice Ademola fixed November 12 and 13, 2015 for cross examination and further hearing.

Ohakim served as  Imo State governor between 2007 and 2011.

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