By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, narrated before the Federal High Court in Abuja, how Colonel Nicholas Ashinze, who was special assistant to the detained National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), used five companies to divert public funds to the tune of N36.8 billion.
The anti-graft agency told the court that Ashinze perpetrated the fraud in connivance with an Austrian, Wolfgang Reinl, as well as two other defendants, Edidiong Idiong and Sagir D. Mohammed.
It gave names of the five companies that allegedly served as conduit pipes for the illegal diversion of funds from office of the NSA under Dasuki, as Geonel Integrated Services Limited, Unity Continental Nigeria Limited, Helpline Organization, Vibrant Resource Limited and Sologic Integrated Services Limited.
According to the agency, the fraud was allegedly committed between 2014 and 2015.
All the defendants, including the five companies are currently answering to a 13-count criminal charge before trial Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the high court.
The court commenced hearing on the matter, yesterday, with a lead investigator at the EFCC, Mr. Hassan Saidu, testifying against the defendants.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Offen Uket, the witness told the court that the N36.8 billion was sequentially released to the defendants from an account of ONSA domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Saidu told the court that the EFCC made some recoveries after it executed a search warrant issued against the defendants. Aside from tendering the warrant which the court admitted into evidence, the witness, listed some of the recovered items, including documents showing how the funds were wired to the five companies via electronic transfers.
One of the items admitted and marked Exhibit 2C by the court, contained list of companies, their banks, account numbers of each of the companies and amount transferred to each of the five companies.
“When we went through exhibit 2C, we got some information about the companies and the banks listed and the various amounts that were transferred to the accounts of the various companies.
“From the information, we asked Heritage/Enterprise bank for details of the transaction, they obliged us and after the analysis of the account, we found out that N3.125b was transferred to the account of Geonel Integrated Services with Heritage from the CBN.
“We discovered that Unity Continental got N120m from ONSA account in CBN on the 22nd of April 2014.
“Same day, the sum of N550million was transferred from the ONSA account in CBN in favour of Law Partners and Associates account with Zenith bank on 22 April 2014.
“Another N500million was transferred from Geonel with Heritage/Enterprise to Helpline account on April 24, 2014”.
More so, the witness said N100million was transferred from Heritage/Enterprise bank to GTB account of Vibrant Resources Ltd on 23 April, while on the same day, Sologic Integrated, got N120million from Geonel’s account at Heritage/Enterprise.
Saidu also told the court that Law Partners and Associates also received another payment which was not captured in exhibit 2C, to the tune of N450mllion on May 5, 2014.
“It was transferred from Geonel’s account domiciled in Heritage/ Enterprise bank. This was the only transaction not captured in exhibit 2c”, the witness added.
“We found out that exhibit 2c was prepared 3 days after the N3.125m was given value in the account of Geonel. We also found out that N2.5b was transferred from CBN to Geonel’s account on Feb 16, 2015″ the witness added.
“Similarly my lord, we found out that this N3.125b was for a purported contract given to Geonel as mobilisation fee in securing 22 dams in Nigeria while the N2.5B was for full and final payment for the purported contract”.
He said the contract was awarded from the ONSA to Geonel Integrated Services.
The witness further told the court that EFCC investigations revealed that Unity Continental Nigeria Ltd was owned by Sagir Mohammed (3rd defendant) who he said was a course mate and friend to the former NSA Sambo Dasuki.
“Law Partners and Associates belongs to Barrister Edidion Idiong, a friend and associate to Dasuki. Helpline Organization is owned by Bello Fadili, who was formerly second in command to Dasuki.
“Vibrant Resources belongs to Abubakar Dasuki, junior brother to Dasuki qhile SOLOGIC Integrated Services Nig Ltd belongs to Bello Ibiyemi Abayemi, son of Bello Fadili”.
“After execution of the search warrant on December 28, 2015, on the next day, we asked the 1st defendant (Ashinze) whether he would make statement in relation to the items recovered from his house at No 67 Vision Estate Apo Abuja, he accepted; and he recorded the statement in my presence and my colleague”, he added.
Meanwhile, the defendants vehemently opposed admissibility of Ashinze’s statement, even as the court adjourned ruling on the issue till March 21.