Wednesday, 14 March 2018

EFCC closes case in ex-permanent secretary’s N14.1 million fraud trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has closed its case in the trial of Clement Onubuogo, a former Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment at an Ikeja High Court, Lagos.

The EFCC closed its case during Wednesday’s proceedings following the conclusion of the testimony of a fourth prosecution witness.

Mr. Onubuogo is facing a three-count charge of stealing by conversion of property derived directly from illegal act with the aim of disguising the origin of the property.

According to the EFCC, the stolen funds which was N14.1 million is the property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

The anti-graft agency said Mr. Onubuogo, during his tenure, was responsible for supervising numerous programmes such as the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).

He was alleged to have awarded fictitious contracts to himself via bank accounts belonging to his company and friends.

Theresa Braimah, the fourth prosecution witness and a retired Director of the Productivity, Measurement and Labour Standard Organisation, a department in the ministry, told the court in her brief testimony that due process was not followed in the dispatch of the alleged embezzled funds.

“I and the defendant are colleagues in the Ministry. There was National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) meetings in 2013 and 2014 between the defendant and my department but none in the years 2015 as claimed by the defendant.

“My department did not receive funds that were allegedly paid into a project account for a 2015 meeting.

“To my knowledge, if funds are given with due process, I will know by virtue of my position because there ought to be signatories,” she said.

While being cross-examined by Bolaji Ayorinde, Mr. Onubuogo’s lawyer, the retired director reiterated the fact that she did not receive money from the defendant during her employment at the Ministry.

In an attempt to counter her testimony that she never received money from Mr. Onubuogo, the lawyer confronted her with Exhibit DF3 which is a statement she made to the EFCC on May 4, 2016.

Responding, she said: “If NIMASA was to fund a meeting, a proposal for the funding will come from my department.

“I did not collect funds to conduct any meeting.”

After Ms. Braimah’s testimony, Mr. Ayorinde told the court of his intention to file a no-case submission instead of opening a defence.

The judge, Oluwatoyin Taiwo, adjourned the case until April 25 for the adoption of written addresses and the hearing of the no-case submission.

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