A building contractor, Mr. Nwamba Chukwuebuka, on Wednesday told a Federal High Court, Abuja, that he was paid N313m within nine months by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, for the building of three sets of houses.
Chukwuebuka, who was testifying as the first prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Justice Ngwuta on corruption charges, said the houses were built in the Abakaliki and Onicha areas of Ebonyi State, the apex court Justice’s home state.
The witness said he operated his construction business under the name, Base4 Services Limited, through which he was engaged by Justice Ngwuta to build the three sets of property.
Fielding questions from the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Charles Adeogun-Philips, the witness said the three building projects were quoted to worth N405m but that Justice Ngwuta had only paid the sum of N313m by the end of September 2016.
The witness said while N30m out of the total N313m was paid to him via bank transfer, the balance (of N283m) was paid to him by Justice Ngwuta in cash in both naira and dollar currencies.
He said the first project was worth N130m, the second N165m and the third N110m, totalling N405m.
According to him, the first project which was negotiated from N148m to N130m and commenced in January 2016, comprised a storey building library block, a four-bedroom bungalow (all self-contained), recovery of a swampy plot and making it habitable, two four-bedroom duplexes detached, a garage “to house some vehicles” and a perimeter fencing of the structures “to connect them with the existing one”.
He said the second project located on Onwe Road, Abakaliki, which commenced in April 2016 and was quoted to cost N165m, comprised the demolition of a dilapidated storey-building, sand-filling of the area “to attain a reasonable level because it was very deep down the road and the erection four units of four-bedroom duplexes for commercial purposes.”
He said the third project quoted to worth N110m was located in Amofia-Ukawu, Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
He said the third project consisted the reconstruction of a poorly built structure, erection of another duplex with a penthouse, a boys’ quarter, painting, decoration, fencing, the gate house and power house.
Speaking on how he was paid for the jobs, the witness said he first met Ngwuta on December 31, 2015 to discuss the first project and by January 4, 2016, he was mobilised with N40m cash given to him by the judge to commence work.
He said by October 2016 he had met the 10-month deadline and had been fully paid the total sum of N130m.
He said after the first payment of N40m, the balance was handed to him in cash (naira and dollars) instalments the judge at the various stages of the project.
He said for the second project which commenced in June 2016 without any specific deadline in view, he had been paid by the judge the sum of N100m in cash out of the agreed cost of N165m.
He said the third project which commenced in June 2016 and agreed to cost N110m was scheduled to be completed in December 2016.
He said out of the N110m project cost, he had been paid N83m.
He said out of the N83m paid to him, N53m was in cash (naira and dollars) and the balance of N30m was through bank transfer.
The trial judge, Justice John Tsoho adjourned the matter till February 9 for the cross-examination of the witness by defence lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN).