By Robert Egbe
The Federal High Court in Lagos Friday heard that Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, allegedly spent N1.4billion state funds to defend his 2015 election victory.
An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigating officer, Abdulraman Arabo, told the court that Udom hired Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to represent him at the tribunal where his victory was being challenged.
Arabo told the court that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor hired the immediate-past Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr Paul Usoro (SAN), who invited other SANs to join his legal team.
He said the N1.4bn legal fee paid to the SANs was drawn from the treasury of the Akwa Ibom State’s account.
Usoro, he alleged, then gave back N55mllion out of the sum, to the state’s Attorney-General.
Arabo testified at the resumed money laundering trial of Usoro before Justice Rilwan Aikawa.
Usoro is facing amended six counts of money laundering.
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Also named as defendants in the case are the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, Nsikan Nkan; the state’s Accountant-General, Mfon Udomah; the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko; and the cashier at the Akwa Ibom State Government House, Margaret Ukpe.
At the commencement of Friday’s proceedings, the court admitted several exhibits, including statements made to the EFCC by the SANs and Usoro’s Access Bank account .
They were tendered by EFCC counsel Usman Buhari, through Rabo.
Fielding questions from the prosecutor, the investigator said after being paid legal fee from the Akwa Ibom State treasury, Usoro gave back N55m to the state’s Attorney-General.
Under cross-examination, Usoro’s lawyer, Offiong Offiong (SAN), asked the investigator, “During your investigation, did you see that the money in issue was for legal fees of the service rendered to Governor Udom?”
Rabo responded: “It is a payment made from government treasury for personal elections tribunal pursuit of the governor.”
When Offiong pointed out to the investigator that his kick-back claim against Usoro was scandalous, the investigator said, “My Lord, what I said in my evidence-in-chief was that this defendant (Usoro) lodged the sum of N55m into the account of Akwa Ibom State Government Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr Uwemedimo Nwoko.”
Further hearing continues on January 18-20, 2021.
Source: The Nation