By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA- The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on Wednesday, narrated before the Federal High Court in Abuja, how it paid N2.1billion to Chairman emeritus of DAAR Communications Plc, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, before the 2015 presidential election.
The bank, through its Manager, Payment Section, Mr. Mukaddas Aliyu Mohammed, said the fund was released to Dokpesi in four tranches, through his firm, DAAR Investment and Holdings Limited.
Mohammed who testified as star witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, told the court that the funds were sequentially withdrawn from account the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, operated with the CBN, between January 21 to March 19, 2014.
He identified four payment mandates that were okayed by the detained former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, and a former Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Mr. Shuaibu Salisu.
The court on Wednesday admitted and marked the payment mandates as Exhibits A1 to A4.
According to the witness who was led in evidence by EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacob, SAN, said whereas the apex bank, on three occasions, transferred the sum of N500m to the defendant, it also released another N620m on February 9, 2014.
“The purpose of the payment was for media campaign”, the witness stated, even as he insisted that the entire transaction followed due process.
He said: “The four mandates were paid by our office. In the Form, it is written that all due process must be followed, it is the due process from our office”.
Under cross-examination by Dokpesi’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, the witness said CBN verified the signatories to the account before all the mandates were paid.
He told the court that though Dasuki and Salisu are no longer signatories to the account, the CBN is still releasing funds to the present NSA the same way it did when Dasuki was in office.
“The signatories to that account now is the present NSA and his Director of Finance. I know that the present NSA is Mr. Mongonu but I can’t remember the name of the Director in office now.
“Even though the signatures for the account has changed, the procedures for payment are still the same.
“We are still following the same procedure. In the same way we received the mandates and honoured them under the past Administration, we have also received several mandates under this government and we also honoured them.
“The account of ONSA is funded by office of the Accountant General of the Federation. It is by funds appropriated in the National Budget by the National Assembly.
“On the same Exhibit A1, there was N500m payment to Dalhatu Investment Ltd. The narrative was for supply of security equipment.
“On Exhibit A2, we paid N60, 616, 000. 00 to Presidential Air Fleet. Makmag General Enterprises Nigeria Ltd also got N13, 680.000.00, which was payment for supply of rice to IDPs. The C-in-C Security Department was paid N75m.
“There are five narrations in Exhibit A3. We have Onile Nigeria Ltd which got N200m payment for consultancy services.
“The second one is Vibrant Resources Limited- N450m payment for security services.
“No.3 is Jawaz Multi-purpose E-Venture Limited, the payment is N148m, payment for supply of security equipment.
“The last narration is to A.R. Security Solution Limited, the amount is N2bn only. It was payment for personnel support and logistics.
“In Exhibit A4, the first narration is General Hydro Carbon Limited- N100m, being payment for Energy consulting. The other one is to DPA office of the NSA- The amount is N239, 500. 000, payment for funding of Nigeria de-radicalisation project.
“The last narration on the document was to Cosse Ltd, the amount is N400m, being payment for supply of security equipment.
“My lord I can confirm from the document before me that after the signatories had signed, there is a column for confirmation where an officer will sign and put date “.
The witness said his role was to verify and confirm mandates before payments are made.
He said all the payments were legitimate in as much as his own office was concerned.
“We followed all the due process and it was complied with. From our own side in CBN, the payments were legitimate”.
Meantime, trial Justice John Tsoho has adjourned the matter till November 18 for continuation of trial.
Dokpesi is answering to a six-count criminal charge alongside his firm, DAAR Investment and Holdings Ltd, owners of African Independent Television, AIT, and Raypower FM.
According to the charge which was signed by the Deputy Director, Legal and Prosecution at the EFCC, Mr. Aliyu Yusuf, the N2.1bn was transferred from CBN to a First Bank account owned by DAAR Investment and Holding Company Limited
EFCC maintained that the transaction was in breach of section 58 (4) (b) of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and punishable under section 58 (6) and 7 of the same Act, as well as under section 17 (b) of the EFCC Act, 2004.
Dokpesi who was initially docked before the high court on December 9, 2015, was re-arraigned by the anti-graft agency on February 17, 2016.
The anti-graft agency earlier told the court that it has lined up 15 witnesses that will testify against the defendants.
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