By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA— The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, docked the former Director General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Mr. Emeka Mba, before the Federal High Court in Abuja over his alleged complicity in N2.9billion fraud.
Mba was arraigned alongside the Director of Finance and Accounts at the NBC, Mr. Patrick Areh, and two business men that were allegedly used to launder funds, Mr. Basil Udotai and Babatunji Amure.
The four defendants pleaded not guilty to an amended 15-count money laundering charge the anti-graft agency preferred against them before trial Justice Gabriel Kolawole.
EFCC alleged that Mba and Areh used their positions at the NBC to corruptly enrich themselves by illegally diverting funds into Zenith Bank Plc accounts of companies operated by the 3rd and 4th defendants.
It said the funds were subsequently wired back to the duo via bank accounts belonging to Bureau-de-change operators.
Mba was further alleged to had on or about August 31, 2015, awarded to 13 companies, contract for the supply of set boxes in the sum of N1.2billion for digital switch over for the NBC, without securing approval from the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPE, contrary to section 40 of the Public Procurement Act No. 65 and punishable under section 58 or same Act.
Shortly after the defendants entered their plea to the charge, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Ben Ikani, applied for trial date, even as he informed the court that the anti-graft agency would call 13 witnesses to testify in the matter.
However, the defendants, through their respective lawyers, Mr. S. I. Ameh, SAN, I.F. Chude, James Onoja, SAN, and E.C. Ani, urged the court to release their clients on bail pending hearing and determination of charges against them.
EFCC lawyer, Mr. Ikani, while opposing their bail request, prayed the court to impose conditions that would compel attendance of the defendants to face their trial.