By Toyin Akinfolajimi
A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Kenneth Uchechuchukwu Osokogu, on Tuesday told Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, how the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) under Alex Badeh’s watch made payments to the tune of N157million to companies linked to the former Chief of Defense Staff, CDS, for non-existent contracts.
Testifying as a prosecution witness, Osokogu told the court that the money was paid to Iyalikam Nigeria Limited and Prince and Princess Multi-services Limited.
Led in evidence by Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, Osokogu, whose schedule of duties include making payments as directed by the CDS and Director of Finance and Account, narrated how the DHQ received two letters from the EFCC in November 29, 2016 concerning investigating activities on Iyalikam, Prince and Princess Multi-services and the DHQ.
He said: “The first letter was asking for contract documents and all activities regarding the two companies and the defense headquarters. We searched our archives and could not find any document relating to contracts and direct purchase regarding DHQ and the two companies.
“I was directed to write back to the EFCC that we could not find anything, which I did through a letter dated December 9, 2016”.
He further told the court that the EFCC wrote back to DHQ, concerning the same companies, attaching two payment mandates evidencing money paid by the DHQ to the companies.
According to him, there was no record of any contract documents with respect to the payment, but the payment mandates attached to the letter from the EFCC, were found in the files.
His words: “In January 2017, the EFCC wrote another letter, concerning same companies, and attaching two payment mandates, in which DHQ paid to those two companies in 2014 and 2015. We conducted further search and could not find any contract documents or memos that led to the payments.
“So we found the same payment mandates which came with the second letter from the EFCC, in our mandate files. I called my predecessor, asked him what led to the transaction, and he said that the payments were meant to furnish the Defense House in Lagos and Chief of Defense Staff guest house in Abuja.”
Asked what step he took thereafter, Osokogu said, “I informed my director and I was instructed to write back to the EFCC, informing the anti-graft agency that the contract documents, relating to the two companies, were not in our files”.
The two letters, which are the replies to the EFCC, dated December 9, 2016 and January 26, 2017, were tendered and admitted as Exhibits T108 and T109 respectively.
When asked to look at exhibit T109 and tell the court how much was paid to Prince and Princess Multi-services Limited, the witness said that two payments of N45million and N45,422,500 were made to the firm between February 2 and February 9, 2015.
Osokogu was also asked to look at Exhibit T108 and disclose the payments made therein to which he said, “N30,636,000 was paid to Iyalikam, while Prince and Princess Multi-services Limited got N36million on June 13, 2014.
He further told the court that, the purpose of the payments mentioned in T108 and T109 reads “operations”.
The statement of the PW18, dated March 22, 2017, which he volunteered to the EFCC was tendered and admitted as Exhibit T110.
Justice Abang, thereafter, adjourned to May 17, 2017, for continuation of trial.
Badeh is standing trial alongside a firm, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, on a 10-count charge bordering on money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption to the tune of N3.97billion.