The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on March 3, 2016 presented three more witnesses against a former Plateau State governor, Joshua Dariye, who is being prosecuted on a 23-count charge bordering on money laundering and diversion of funds, before Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court, Gudu, Abuja.
In addition to being accused of siphoning about N1.162 billion Ecological Fund meant for the state, Dariye is also alleged to have diverted about N204 million meant for the state treasury, to Ebenezer Retnan Ventures, ERV– a company linked to him.
The EFCC presented an assistant director with the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, Mobolanle Folaranmi, the state’s Accountant General, Cyril Isenyil, and the Cluster Control Manager in the Internal Control Unit of Diamond Bank, Garki branch in Abuja, Celestine Idiaye, as its fourth, fifth and sixth witnesses.
Led in evidence by prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, Folaranmi, who has spent about 27 years with the NDIC, testified as to the authenticity of statements of accounts from the defunct All States Trust Bank, ASTB, linked to the alleged fraud.
“We got a letter from the EFCC demanding for the statement of account of a customer, which we responded to because we have the computer server, being the liquidator in custodian of all the statement of accounts of all the
customers of [the defunct] All States Trust Bank,” Folaranmi said.
Identifying the cover letter, statement of account, and certificate of identification, Folaranmi told the court that all the entries took place while the bank was still in operation. She further explained that the server had security codes that made it impossible for anyone to tamper with the document or alter any figures in the statement of account domiciled with any closed bank in Nigeria.
“We retrieved the statement of account of the particular customer as at the date of closure when the Central Bank of Nigeria revoked the licence, and forwarded same to the EFCC,” she said, adding that the state of the computer server was in good and perfect form.
G. S. Pwul, SAN, counsel to Dariye objected to the admissibility of the documents arguing that since Folaranmi was not a staff of the bank, she could not speak as to the authenticity of the documents.
Jacobs, however, contended that the objection was misplaced, because “the witness explained elaborately that the bank had been liquidated by the NDIC, which is the liquidator, and NDIC is in custody of the bank’s computer server and so the liquidator has assumed the position of the All States Trust Bank.”
The objection to the admissibility of the documents by Pwul was overruled by the trial judge, and the documents accepted as part of exhibits in the trial.
Under cross-examination, Isenyil, on his part, told the court that the office of the Accountant General was unable to trace several vouchers related to cheques linked with the alleged fraud.
“The EFCC invited me and presented a list of account numbers showing transactions dating back to 2000, and I was encouraged to bring the documents related to the cheques including payment vouchers,” he said.
He further told the court that several checks by staff of his office turned out to be fruitless as “we were unable to trace any vouchers relating to the cheques”.
In his testimony, Idiaye, told the court that the EFCC requested for documents of transactions done with the defunct Lion Bank, which was acquired by Diamond Bank Plc.
“The requested documents involved various accounts that included that of the Accountant General’s office, Plateau State Water Board, Plateau State Investment Account & Account Payable,” he said.
The certificate of identification along with the documents related to the accounts were presented in court and admitted as part of exhibits in the trial of Dariye.
Justice Banjoko, thereafter, adjourned till April 5, 2016 for continuation of trial.
Head, Media & Publicity
3rd March, 2016