Alleged N23.3bn fraud: ONSA’s operations always covert, EFCC witness tells court

EFCC operatives

Aliyu Mukadas, a witness in the trial of ex-Minister of State for Finance, Amb. Bashir Yuguda and four others, on Monday told an FCT High Court, Maitama, that the operations of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) were always covert.

Others defendants in the trial are retired Col. Sambo Dasuki ex-National Security Adviser (NSA), former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, his son, Sagir, and their company, Dalhatu Investment Limited.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the former finance minister and four others are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an amended 25-count charge bordering on alleged misappropriation of N23.3billion.

At the resumed sitting, the EFCC witness, Mukadas, (PW1), told the court under cross examination by counsel to Bafarawa and his son, Professor J. O. Olatoke (SAN), said ONSA’s operations were covert for security reasons.

According to the PW1, who is a payment manager with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the operation of ONSA’s accounts with the apex bank was in the exclusive domain of account holder.

He informed the court that though he was not a signature expert, it was only Dasuki and one S.A Salisu that signed the documents and presented same for payment through their representatives.

Mukadas added that he was not aware of the office of a procurement officer in government parastatals.

PW1 also added that he was not the officer involved in the transaction that led to the case against the defendants.

According to him, notwithstanding the fact that the ongoing case was instituted by EFCC in December 2015, he was only invited by the EFCC to give statement on March 31, 2016, because he was a desk officer.

When Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Counsel to the 5th defendant, Dalhatu Investment Ltd, asked what his schedule of duty was, the witness told the court that he only effected payment when contracts had been executed.

“For security reasons, they always find a name for such contracts,” the EFCC witness told the court.

Justice Yusuf Halilu later adjourned the matter until May 17 at the request of the prosecution counsel, Oluwaleke Atolagbe.

EFCC had arraigned the defendants first before Justice Peter Affen, now of the Court of Appeal, on Dec. 24, 2015.

The matter was later transferred to Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, now the FCT Chief Judge in October, 2016.

The case could not take off since it was first brought to court largely due to the detention of the former NSA by the Department of State Service (DSS).

On May, 24, 2022, the defendants were re-arraigned before Justice Yusuf Halilu on an amended 25-count -charge bordering on misappropriation, criminal breach of trust and receiving stolen property.

They all, however, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them . (NAN)

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