Four years after a PDP Senator, Peter Nwaoboshi allegedly committed a N322 million fraud, his trial started off on Wednesday in Lagos with the prosecution opening its case.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had slammed a two-count charge of money laundering and fraud on
Nwaoboshi, who represents Delta North in the National Assembly. Also charged along with him are two companies — Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd.
Nwaoboshi had at its arraignment pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Justice Mohammed Idris had granted him bail on self-recognizance as a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on Wednesday, the EFCC called its first witness, Prince Kpokpogiri, who mounted the witness box after he swore an oath and was led in evidence.
The witness told the court that he wrote a petition to the EFCC after he received an anonymous call and some documents at his office in Asaba, Delta capital. He said he was subsequently invited by the EFCC to Abuja to come and adopt the petition.
The witness also told the court that he runs a NGO known as Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum, and also owned a real Estate Firm, called P.K Aro Multiservices Nigeria Ltd.
Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), the witness said that it was not his duty to investigate the contents of his petition before forwarding same to the EFCC because “it is the duty of the commission to investigate”. He, however, said that he only perused the document.
Idigbe then said: “I put it to you that apart from the fact that you did not investigate the documents, you did not also take any step to verify the facts stated in the petition.”
The witness maintained that it was not his duty to investigate.
In his examination-in-chief, the second prosecution witness, Mr Murtala Abubakar, told the court that the third accused, (Suiming Electricals Ltd), applied for a loan at the Nigerian Export-Import Bank in December 2013, which was approved in April 2014.
He said that the head of the Enterprise Risk Management unit of the bank said that the accused was a former board member of the bank.
The witness also said that while the meeting to take a decision on the loan request was being held, the accused indicated his interest in the transaction and was recused from the deliberation.
He said that the accused is a director at Bildeberg, a holding company, which had the majority shareholding in Suiming Electricals Nigeria Ltd.
According to him, the EFCC made five requests to the bank on Suiming Electricals Ltd, starting from June 2017 in respect of the loan granted the company.
He said the company met all the bank’s conditions before the loan was disbursed.
The witness said that although the third accused had repaid over one billion naira out of the facility which was for five years, “it is still a non-performing one.”
“There is a difference between paying and performing; when we give a loan, we give you a payment plan, so, when you are supposed to be paying one million naira quarterly but you are paying ₦200,000, you are paying but you are not performing.”
The court adjourned the case until July 2 and July 3 to enable the prosecution to assemble its remaining witnesses.
The EFCC alleged that the accused committed the offences between May and June 2014 in Lagos.
Nwaoboshi was said to have acquired a property described as Guinea House, Marine Road in Apapa, Lagos, for the sum of N805 million when he reasonably ought to have known that N322 million out of the purchase sum formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act.
The sum was said to have been transferred to the vendors by order of Suiming Electrical Ltd. Suiming was said to have on May 14, 2014, aided Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch to commit money laundering.
The offences contravened the provisions of Sections 15(2), (d), 15 (3) and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering Act.