SURE-P Funds: No evidence money was misappropriated, defendants tell court

ABUJA –

A United Kingdom based Professor of Neurology, Reuben Oluwakinmilehin Obaro, and his wife, Ayodele, a practising nurse also in the UK, have told Justice A. O. Ebong of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) sitting in Zuba, that there is no evidence that money was misappropriated in the construction of a world class stroke centre in Abuja.
A firm, Stephen James Stroke Centre of
Excellence had planned and designed a world class stroke centre for Nigeria for the management of the rising incidence of stroke among Nigerians and to reduce the numbers of Nigerians travelling abroad to seek medical help.
While a total sum of N450million was released by SURE-P for the project, the court heard that the defendants have so far spent over N300‎million additional personal money on the project.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, dragged them before the court alleging fraud.
According to the ICPC the actions of the husband and wife violated Sections 25 (1) (a), 15 and 16 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and were punishable under the same sections.
Professor Obaro and his wife had proposed to SURE-P the establishment of a specialised stroke centre for the management of the rising incidence of stroke among Nigerians
The ICPC, in prosecuting its case, called some witnesses to testify in it.
However, Dr. Obaro and his wife, through their counsel, Mr. John Nnaemeka Egwuonwu, a Senior Advocate, filed a motion for a no case submission .
In their motion argued yesterday, Egwuonwu, SAN, told the court that there is no evidence to show that any money was misappropriated.
He argued, ”There is nothing to show that N186m was misappropriated. No witness has come before the court to testify that they spent money inappropriately. There are inconsistencies in the charge against the accused persons as regards misappropriation of funds.
”The prosecution admitted that eighteen (18) pages of the exhibit were missing and no explanation was offered for the missing pages.
”The prosecution failed to produce vital witnesses in this case. SURE-P and Budget Office that made the payment available were not called to give evidence”, he said.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also
emphasised to the court that there was no personal emolument or salaries drawn by the defendants, stressing that rather they were spending their personal money to run project.
But the prosecution counsel, Osuoseni Akpos, in his response to the motion said the defendants in alleging that some pages of the exhibit against them are missing must place document before the court to prove that assertion.
”The motion for no case submission is just an academic paper which has nothing to do with the case before the court.
”I urge the court to hold that a prima-facie has been established and should be ordered to enter their defence in this matter”, he said.
After the parties in the case had argued their briefs, the court reserved its ruling in the case.

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