By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJA â€” FORMER Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ambassador Sam Edem yesterday told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that he lost a whopping sum of N715 million to a 34-year-old fake pastor, Mr. Mathew Sonoma (aka Perekambowei Ogah) while he was holding office.
Edem who gave evidence yesterday in a criminal trial against Sonoma by the Nigeria Police told the court that the accused did not hypnotise him before he made him cough out the money.
He simply said that Sonoma was masquerading as a pastor when he is in fact a criminal leading a dare-devil gang of militants extorting money from unsuspecting people.
But he could not establish the allegation against the accused yesterday under cross-examination.
Sonoma, it would be recalled, was the 34-year-old sorcerer arraigned by the police before the Abuja Federal High Court sitting in Maitama for allegedly defrauding Sam Edem of a whopping sum of N761 million.
The police had also arraigned the former NDDC boss, Sam Edem before an Abuja High Court sitting in Wuse over allegation that he unlawfully spent about N800 million belonging to the Commission on a sorcerer.
Edem was said to have paid a total N510 million to the sorcerer called Dr Perebakowei Ogah alias Matthew Sonoma from the N800 million allegedly taken from the Commissionâ€™s account.
Edem though denied the allegation but the police insisted and went further to say that he allegedly spent the said sum to secure the services of the sorcerer to enable him get contracts from the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio and to kill the immediate past NDDC MD, Mr Timi Alaibe.
The police, at the time, told the court that the spiritualist, (Sonoma) whom the NDDC boss allegedly contacted confessed to the police that he was paid various sums of money so that he could help him (Edem) make some sacrifices to be able to retain his position as the commissionâ€™s Chairman.
But the NDDC boss yesterday denied the allegation that he paid the money to Sonoma for any spiritual assistance.
Ambassador Sam Edem who said Sonoma collected all the money from him through threats however said that he did not pay him directly.
He said he paid the money through his Personal Assistant, an SSS officer attached to him, one Mr. Denis, now at large, upon his advice.
But Vanguard gathered yesterday from Sonomaâ€™s legal team that the ambassador was telling lies.
According to them, they said that Sonoma was already before a Delta State high court sitting in Warri with a civil suit demanding for an order compelling Edem to pay him an additional N200 million for the services rendered to him.
According to Sonomaâ€™s legal team, Edem was said to have lost his capacity to make love with women, a development that made him to visit Sonoma for spiritual assistance.
According to them, Sonoma charged the ex-NDDC boss based on his alleged wealth and that up till now, Edem was yet to pay up the amount agreed for the services rendered.
His lawyers said that Sonoma would not yield to any harassment until he collected his balance of N200million from Edem.
They said that Sonoma told them that after he spiritually healed Edem, Edem had confirmed to their client that he had not only regained his powers to make love with women but that he had even impregnated a woman who allegedly bore him a child lately.
But Ambassador Edem who reacted to the allegation yesterday during cross-examination said there was no truth in Sonomaâ€™s story.
He said that he had never lost his powers to make love for even a second.
He was led in evidence yesterday by his lawyer on how he met Sonoma and how he lost the said N715million to him.
He said: â€œThe accused was introduced to me as a pastor by a young man called Kaka (now at large) who is the second accused person in this case. Kaka is a youth leader in the Niger Delta region.
â€œI was told that the first accused person was praying for other politicians.
â€œKaka is a cousin to a former governor who is my friend.
â€œI knew him (the accused) through Kaka,â€ he said.
Added he: â€œthe accused sitting down there collected a total N715 million from me under threat.
â€œI paid him the monies between December 1, 2007 and April 2008.
â€œThis man came to my house asking for loan.â€œI asked my security details to investigate him.
â€œThe finds were that he is a notorious criminal and militant. I therefore declined to give him the loan.
â€œBecause of that, he started threatening me.
â€œHe said he would bomb my house. He demanded for N100 million.
â€œSpecifically, on December 3, 2007, he came with his gang to block the gate of my house with five cars.
â€œThey called me on phone to tell me that the situation was tense and that I had to give money.
â€œOn December 4, 2007, I gave instruction through my Personal Assistant that he should be paid N60million.
â€œHe continued with the threat and I paid him another N30million through the strong advice of my security officer, Denis.
â€œHe had always said I should pay to avert bloodshed. I paid all monies through Denis.
â€œIn March 2008, I paid him N50million.
â€œIn April the same year, I paid him N100million twice,â€ he added.
It was at this juncture that Edemâ€™s lawyer applied to the court that his client should be allowed to refresh his memory but the court turned the request down.
His counsel who had no choice than to go ahead with the case had to lead Edem in evidence on why he was paying all the monies demanded from him by Sonoma without reporting the case to the police. Hear Edem:
â€œI was paying all the monies even though I have six policemen in my convoy in my capacity as NDDC chairman.
â€œBut you know, militants invade police station, army barracks.
â€œBut I ask: What can six policemen do in the face of what the militants can do?
â€œThat was why I reported the matter to AIG, Zone 5.
â€œThe two cheques of N100 million each were in my familyâ€™s company name. The name of the company is Diamond Hills Limited. The cheque was paid through one Denis.
â€œRichard Boma Limited and Centry Global Limited, Brim Earth are other companies owned by me.
â€œI donâ€™t have any other transaction with the accused.
â€œAll the companies I mentioned paid monies to the accused person through Mr. Denis Odenyi, my Personal Assistant.
â€œThe loan I eventually gave him was written off.