Money Laundering Trial: Ex-HoS, Oronsaye knows fate April 5 - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Thursday, January 19, 2023

Money Laundering Trial: Ex-HoS, Oronsaye knows fate April 5

By Our Correspondent

 The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has slated April 5 to deliver judgement on the 27-count money laundering charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against the former Head of Service, HoS, of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.

Oronsaye is facing trial alongside the Managing Director of Fedrick Hamilton Global Services Limited, Mr. Osarenkhoe Afe and three companies- Cluster Logistic Limited; Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Limited, and Drew Investment & Construction Company Limited.

EFCC had alleged that the Defendants had between 2010 and 2011, used the firms and siphoned public funds totalling about N2billion, through procurement fraud.

It alleged that the funds were subsequently diverted into private accounts by the Defendants.

Trial Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned the matter for judgement after both the EFCC and counsel to the Defendants adopted their final briefs of argument.

The erstwhile HoS who adopted his final brief of argument through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Ade Okeanya-inneh SAN, prayed the court to discharge and acquit him of the charge.

He maintained that the anti-graft agency failed to by way of credible evidence, prove his complicity in the alleged fraud.

Insisting that the entire proof of evidence that was adduced by the EFCC did not establish a prima-facie case against him, Oronsaye, urged the court to dismiss the charge in its entirety. 

He noted that though the prosecution initially entered a 49-count charge against him, it subsequently withdrew 22 of them upon realizing that they were not only baseless, but also not supported by any evidence.

However, the EFCC, through its lawyer, Mr. Oluwaleke Atolagbe urged the court to uphold its case and accordingly convict the Defendants.

EFCC maintained that the gamut of documentary and oral evidence it produced before the court was capable of establishing the guilt of the Defendants.

It, therefore, prayed the court to not only convict the Defendants, but also make necessary order for restitution.

Atolagbe further predicated his request for conviction on alleged confessional statement the 2nd Defendant, Afe, made in the course of the trial.

After he had listened to both sides, trial Justice Ekwo fixed the matter for judgement.

It will be recalled that EFCC closed its case against the Defendants after it called a total of 21 witnesses that testified before the court.

Thereafter, the court ordered the Defendants to open their defence.

While testifying as his own witness, Oronsaye, accused the EFCC of deliberately witch-hunting him, following a presentation he made before the National Assembly while he was still in office.

He told the court that he ran into trouble after he defended an Executive Bill on the EFCC, at a point when the Commission itself mounted strong opposition against the said Bill.

According to him, shortly after he returned to his office at the end of his presentation at the NASS, the anti-graft agency, summoned him to its office.

He told the court that upon his arrival at the EFCC office on December 7, 2013, he was confronted with all manners of allegations.

Oronsaye told the court that the EFCC had yet to show him a copy of the petition that led to his trial.

The Defendant, while enumerating some of the services he rendered to the nation, recalled that he had, at a time, headed five special presidential committees.

He insisted that throughout his tenure in office, he neither signed any payment mandate nor had any dealings with the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP.

"Contrary to EFCC allegation against me, only staff of the accountant general of the Federation have power to sign payment mandate", he added.

While denying the allegation that he had on several occasions, transferred public funds from Union Bank to Unity Bank, the former HoS, also refuted the claim that he operated 66 different bank accounts.

He told the court that EFCC conducted a shoddy investigation before the charge was entered against him.

The Defendant further tendered several documents in evidence, among which included a circular on contract threshold that was signed by the then Secretary General of the Federation, Mr. Yayale Ahmed.

Other documents the Defendant tendered were EFCC's interim investigation report on alleged conspiracy and diversion of public funds, as well as the judgement that was  delivered in the case of the jailed former Pension Reform Task Team, PRTT, Abdulrasheed Maina.

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