…witness denies having any form of transaction with the accused

as EFCC says it has over 78 witnesses for testimonies

By Fortune Eromosele

Trial of former Chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, continued before Justice Maryam Hassan of the FCT High Court Jabi, with the testimony of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, first prosecution witness (PW-1), Malam Salihu Dantsoho Sadiq in the alleged N3 billion money laundering criminal charges.

At Monday’s proceedings, the PW-1 in his evidence, denied knowing or ever transacting any direct business with the accused person.

The witness who claimed to be a Bureau De Change operator admitted transacting business in relation to the Social Insurance Trust Fund NSITF through one Henry Sambo for purchase of foreign exchange.

Led in evidence by EFCC counsel, Steve Odiase, the witness informed the court that the transactions involved millions of naira and that the transaction held between 2014 and 2015.

He said that he was invited in 2015 by EFCC in relation to the transactions and made useful statement in respect of the matter.

Under cross examination by Mr Paul Erokoro SAN, who stood for the defendant, the witness said that all transactions he carried out followed due process of the law and guidelines of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

Sadiq told the court that, “I found nothing suspicious in all the transactions and I would have reported to EFCC if I had noticed anything suspicious.”

Meanwhile, EFCC said it had over 78 witnesses to testify against the ex-NSITF boss, but however said it wishes to scale down the numbers billed to testify against Olejeme.

EFCC through its counsel, Mr Steve Odiase informed the court that the anti graft agency has reviewed the case against Olejeme and found that 78 witnesses are too wide and sought to scale them down.

Odiase said that only vital and critical witnesses would be needed and that the commission would come up with an appreciable number of the witnesses to testify against the accused person.

He said: “My Lord, we had earlier informed this Honourable court of intention to call 78 witnesses to give evidence in this trial. But we have decided to scale down the witnesses because it is not how many that matters but how well.

“We will soon come up with an appreciable number of witnesses because we can’t go ahead with 78 witnesses and I urge my Lord to allow us put our house in order before the adjournmed date.”

After the witnesses was discharged from the witness box, Justice Maryam Hassan Aliyu fixed November 29, 2021 for further trial of the defendant.

It will be recalled that Olejeme, who was an aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, was arraigned before the court on October 21 on a nine-count charge, in which she was accused of abusing her office, receiving bribe, awarding contracts without due process, among others.

Shortly after the arraignment, Justice Aliyu adopted the conditions attached to the administrative bail earlier granted Olejeme by the prosecuting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2017 to admit her to bail.

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The conditions include that the defendant produces two Deputy Directors in government employment to stand as her sureties.

In one of the counts, Olejeme was alleged to have “dishonestly received the sum of N22,200,000.00” from a contractor with NSITF into her personal account No. 32327505058110 at GT Bank.

Olejeme was also accused of receiving $48,485,127.00, which was dollars equivalent of some funds received from contractors as “kickback.”

Some counts in the charge read: “That you Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Olejenie being the former Board Chairman of NigeriaSocial Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) sometimes between 2012 and 2015 in Abuja, while being entrusted with dominion over money belonging to the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) received benefit to do favour in the discharging of your official duties to (NSITF) by receiving the sum of N505,000,000.00 (five hundred and five million naira) from Sir Adebayo Adebowale Aderibigbe which was sourced from the monies paid by (NSITF) to Fountain Media Consults Ltd and Fountain Legal Services accounts as kickbacks and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(i) (b) (i) and punishable under Section 8(b) (ii) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

“That you Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Olejeme being the former Board Chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) sometimes between 2012 and 2015 in Abuja, while being entrusted with dominion over money belonging to the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) received benefit to do favour in the discharging of your official duties to (NSITF) received the sum of N346,100,000.00 (three hundred and forty-three million, one hundred thousand naira) from one Mr. Max Ozoaka of Excellex Solicitors as kickbacks and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(i) (b) (i) and punishable under Section 8(b) (ii) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

“That you Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Olejeme being the former Board Chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) sometimes between 2012 and 2015 in Abuja, while being entrusted with dominion over money belonging to the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) received benefit to do favour in the discharging of your official duties to (NSITF) received the sum of N87,720,000.00 (eighty-seven million, seven hundred and twenty thousand naira) through Mr Aliyu Zubairu of (NSITF) paid by one Mr. Anselem Okolo of Journalism.com as kickbacks and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(i) (b) (i) and punishable under Section 8(b) (ii) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

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