Justice A.O Adeniyi of a Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed Wednesday April 15 for further hearing in the on going trial of a former governor of Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu.
Audu and one Alfa Ibn Mustapha, a former Director General of the Directorate of Rural Development, Kogi State, are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for offences bordering on criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N10, 965,837,040 (Ten billion, Nine Hundred and Sixty five Million, Eight Hundred and Thirty Seven Thousand, Forty Naira) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
On Thursday, April 2, 2015 when the case came up for hearing, Jabaru Olatunji, a prosecution witness told the court that several documents on the award of contracts to major contractors between 2000 and 2003 during Audu’s tenure as governor, were forged.
Olatunji, a staff of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, who is also the
eighth prosecution witness, Pw8, while being led in evidence by counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, told the court that he was part of a joint task force involving five security agencies that investigated the petition against Audu, alleging that he used his office to siphon Kogi State government funds. He said his team visited Kogi State in the course of the investigation.
When asked about their findings during the said visit, Olatunji told the court that, at the office of the Accountant General of the State, they met one Dr. Shuaibu who made available documents detailing all the allocations to the State Government from May 2000 to April 2003.
According to him, the team proceeded to the Ministry of Works where they met one Dr. Ocheni who furnished them with records of all the allocations, contracts awarded and payments made.
Analyses of these documents, according to the witness, revealed that three companies were major contractors. The companies are: Leoflench Nigeria Limited, Bulkom Nigeria Limited, Aresanmi Technical Industrial Limited and Pet-Tim Nigeria Limited.
“My Lord, investigations revealed that Leoflinch Nigeria Limited’s documents were forged by the second accused”, Olatunji said.
Furthermore, Olatunji told the court that based on this revelation, the team invited some key officers. One of them, Kayode Ayodele, a geologist, said that, he knew nothing about most of the contracts and that most of the documents and vouchers shown to him were forged. “My Lord, he even denied signing most of the certificate of completion shown to him’’, the witness added.
Olatunji further stated that, “same was the statement of one Engineer Adejo Yusuf who went ahead to separate the falsified record from the real one”.
In the course of investigation, Olatunji stated that, one Mr. Olajire, an Accountant with the Kogi State Government was invited, and he confirmed that most of the documents were forged and that he was ordered to approve most of the contracts.
He also told the court that, investigation also revealed that several millions were withdrawn by the Accountant and handed over to the second accused.
Upon this discovery, Olatunji stated that, the second accused and the Director of Leoflench were invited for a meeting where Mustapha (the second accused) admitted that he acted on the instruction of Prince Audu.
“My Lord, Mustapha confessed that, Audu directed him to forge documents and to raise drafts from the First Bank account of the Directorate of Rural Development, DRD and same were paid into Bulkom’s Diamond Bank account” Olatunji affirmed.
“Investigation and search conducted at the Bulkoms’ showed that the first accused actually had business with the company,” he further stated.
The documents of contract agreement and cheques were presented to the court and admitted in evidence as P156 and P157 respectively.
It would be recalled that one Uchenna Agagara from Diamond Bank had testified that, from May 29, 2001 to July 23, 2003 about N926m was lodged in Bulkom Nigeria Limited’s Diamond bank account, mostly through cheques and drafts of an old generation bank.