Trial has commenced at the Federal High Court, Abuja against former House of Representatives’ Committee Chairman on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nicholas Mutu Ebomo and others for alleged abuse of office.
Three prosecution witnesses have testified so far, and there seems to be nothing incriminating following their testimonies and cross-examination.
Hon. Mutu & others had earlier denied the charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Flowing from the testimonies is the fact that there was a legally binding agreement between the parties which enabled Airworld Technologies Ltd, the 2nd defendant to perform and earn the monies accordingly.
False, Non-factual Reports
Several reports including of Opera News narrated how N400 million was sent to the 1st defendant as a token for him to influence and facilitate payments by oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region to NDDC.
According to the publication, Inabua Michael West, a businessman with Starline Consultancy Services International Auditing and Account Service who testified as the second prosecution witness, told the court that he knows Airworld Technologies Limited and Oyien Homes Limited, adding that his company won the contract with NDDC to recover and collect the statutory levies from oil companies operating in Niger Delta region.
“We sat with members of the Committee and a chartered accountant for the project team and the companies later paid the three per cent statutory levy to NDDC.
“When NDDC paid us our service fee, my principal officer suggested that we show appreciation … and so we sent monies in tranches. The first amount was N400 million and was sent through our Heritage and Fidelity banks accounts”, Opera News reported.
Cracks and No Proof
But the publication sighted by our reporter was however unable to prove how the defendants are directly linked to the allegations. It also did not state how the alleged gratification was directly received by the former lawmaker.
The Defense Counsels, during cross-examination, punctured the EFCC evidence, when the first prosecution witness, Tubosun Arebuwa of Tareb Consultants said that Hon. Mutu never asked for anything, rather, they were the ones that on their own initiative and volition, determined and paid money to Airworld Technologies Ltd & Oyien Homes Ltd, the 2nd & 3rd Defendants respectively, as appreciation.
“He also stated under cross-examination that the money paid by NDDC to them as Consultants was legitimately earned as agreed between the parties in the agreement executed between them. He confirmed that he signed the letter appointing Airworld Technologies Ltd as sub-consultant, in addition to the MOU & agreement executed between them.
He further stated that the money earned and disbursed was not a proceed of corruption” though EFCC prosecution counsel, Mr Ekele Iheanacho objected to its admissibility, but the court overruled him.
He also noted that Inabua Michael West and Akindeye Ezekiel, the 2nd & 3rd prosecution witnesses corroborated the evidence of the 1st prosecution witness and went further to deny knowing or meeting with Hon. Mutu at any time.
The matter was adjourned to later dates for continuation of hearing.