A prosecution witness Kakwagh Ngunan, in the ongoing money laundering trial of Senator Bassey Albert by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday October 19, 2020 narrated how the senator, as Commissioner for Finance in Akwa Ibom state, received vehicles as gift from Olajide Omokore whose companies executed over N3billion contracts for the Akwa Ibom State government.
The EFCC is currently prosecuting Senator Albert before Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, for his alleged involvement in offences bordering on money laundering and being in possession of six vehicles worth N204 million, at the instance of one Olajide Omokore, whose companies allegedly executed contracts for the Akwa Ibom State government.
While being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, M. S. Abubakar, Kakwagh, an operative of the EFCC, told the court that her team traced about N3billion payments from the Akwa Ibom State government and the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee, IMDLCC, to the accounts of Canwod Dredging Company Limited, Bay Atlantic Limited, Sahel Engineering, Power Nigeria Limited and Network Services Nigeria Limited – all linked to Jide Omokore.
She said her team, “requested for statements of accounts from Stanbic IBTC bank and Access bank regarding these companies, and as soon as the banks obliged us the statements, we invited the alter ego of the company, one Olajide Omokore to come and explain why those companies received so much money from Akwa Ibom State government and the IMDLCC”.
According to the witness, when Omokore responded to the invite, he informed the investigation team that the payments were for contracts executed for the Akwa Ibom State government.
The witness further told the court that several documents were recovered when a search warrant was executed at the office and residence of Omokore. The documents included; contract papers from the Akwa Ibom State government to Network Services Nigeria Limited for the supplies of bullet proof vehicles and invoices from Skymit Limited in the name of Bassey Albert and Olajide Omokore, as well as delivery notes for the vehicles in the name of Senator Albert.
“My team further traced monies from Omokore’s company account to the account of Skymit Limited, and when we invited Skymit to tell us the reasons for the money, we were told that it was for the purchase of vehicles. So, my investigation revealed that the accused, while he was the Commissioner for Finance and Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee IMDLCC, Omokore and his companies received monies from the Akwa Ibom State government and the IMDLCC. Also, that Omokore bought cars from Skymit Limited for the accused”, the witness said.
The witness also added that in the course of her investigation, her team wrote a letter to the Chairman of the IMDLCC, requesting for the details of all contractors and projects carried out by the Committee but did not receive any response..
The prosecution tendered all the documents which included: a search warrant; a petition from one Leo Ekpenyong dated June 8, 2015, and addressed to the Executive Chairman of EFCC; and four statements made by the accused dated August 11, 2015, September 10, 2015, May 14, 2018 and May 17, 2018.
Others are Letters from Skymit Nigeria Limited addressed to the Chairman of the EFCC, with attached invoices and delivery notes of vehicles; copies of Skymit Limited Skye bank statement of account; statement of accounts of all the above mentioned companies from Stanbic IBTC, Access bank and Skye bank and a copy of request letter from EFCC to IMDLCC.
The court admitted the documents in evidence and marked them as exhibits P2 to P11.
The prosecution thereafter asked the witness to tell the court about exhibit P6. “On page 3 is the Skymit Limited invoice in the name of Albert Bassey/ Jide Omokore for six Toyota Hilux 4X4 for N36million. On pages 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 are all delivery notes and waybill from Skymit Limited for Toyota Hilux 4X4 to Albert Bassey” the witness said.
The matter was adjourned till December 7 and 8 2020, for continuation of trial.
In a related development, Justice I. M Sani of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on October 14, convicted and sentenced Mohammed Suleiman to one year imprisonment for dealing in petroleum product without a requisite license.
He pleaded guilty to the two count charge preferred against him by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The charges bordered on “dealing in petroleum product to wit: loaded illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil without authority contrary to Section 3 (6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation Nigeria) 2004 and punishable
under Section 1(17(b) of the same Act”
Based on his guilty plea, prosecution counsel, M.T. Iko, prayed the court to convict and sentence him accordingly. However, defense counsel, E.H Eboh pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy “since the defendant is a first offender without any
previous conviction record”.
Justice Sani subsequently sentenced Suleiman to one year imprisonment,
with an option of fine of N300, 000.00 ( Three Hundred Thousand Naira only)
Suleiman got into troubles when he was intercepted by the Anti- bunkering Team of 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, with a Truck with registration number:
FKJ 217 XP, loaded with Automotive Gas
Oil ( AGO) without an appropriate license. He was subsequently handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.