A witness in the trial of Stephen Orosanye, former Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force, on Wednesday told an Abuja High Court how the former Head of Service of the Federation opened a secret account in the name of the Task Force, to divert about N190 million belonging to the Federal Government.
Olubunmi Ojoko, the Witness and an employee of Access Bank Plc, was led in evidence by Ufom Uket, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) .
She told the court that Orosanye opened the Access Bank account on behalf of the PCFATF in 2012, without due approval of the Accountant-General of the Federation as required.
She said: “He (Oronsaye) called me that he needed to open an account on behalf of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force.
“I met him at his residence in Asokoro, where I handed him the documents for the account, including the Access Bank account opening request of the committee signed by him, his passport photograph, copy of his passport and documents that set up the committee by the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“I scrutinised the documents and discovered that the Accountant-General of the Federation’s approval was not included. So I asked him for it and he said it was not necessary. I asked for the Accountant-General of the Federation’s approval because it is needed when opening a government account. Since he said that it wasn’t necessary, I took him by his word. I took the documents to the bank and the account was opened.”
Asked if she had any transaction with any member of the committee, including Jalal Arabi, the secretary to the committee, throughout the operation of the account, she responded in the negative.
She said there were four lodgments into the account from the CBN and other cash deposits, adding that the lodgments totaled N285 million, part of which were invested in fixed deposits.
She also said part of the interest that accrued from money was re-invested.
Ojoko further disclosed that Oronsaye had withdrawn about N150 million as at the time the account was closed.
The witness gave highlights of the account thus:
“The first transfer was N50 million in October 2012. The second was in April 2012 was N90 million from the CBN. In May 2013, there was another cash lodgment of N45 million. The fourth lodgment of N100 million came in December 2014 from the CBN.
“After the first lodgment (of N50m from CBN) several cheques were drawn by the defendant (Oronsaye) in favour various beneficiaries.
“The second inflow of N90 million was invested in fixed deposit account. It was fixed in Banker’s Acceptance, which is a form of investment, for 90 days at 9 per cent. On maturity, the N45 million (the third inflow) had come and it was fixed for 90 days.
“Upon maturity, they (the investments) were usually rolled over on the instruction of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye and the interest credited into his current account.
“The N100 million (the fourth inflow) came in December 2014 and it was placed in fixed Banker’s Acceptance for 90 days.
“The total of investments and roll overs were about 28. About N150 million interests accrued on all the investments.
“Now the account is at zero balance after the N163.5 million in it was transferred to the Treasury Single Account.”
Led to read from the statement of the account which was tendered and admitted by the court without any objection from the defence, Ojoko said:
“On September 20, 2013 there was a cheque withdrawal of N900,000 in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
“On October 31, 2013, there was a cheque withdrawal of N500,000 in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On December 12, 2013, there was a cash withdrawal of N3 million in favour of Mr. Stepehen Oronsaye. On December 23, 2013, there was another withdrawal of N3 million in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
“On January 29, 2014, there was another withdrawal of N3 million in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On February 3, 2014, there was a withdrawal of N3 million by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On February 17, 2014, there was a withdrawal of N600,000 by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
“On April 8, 2014, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, withdrew N3 million with cheque. On July 3, 2014, there was withdrawal of N3 million by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On July 10, 2014, there was withdrawal of N3 million by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On October 30, 2014, N900,000 was withdrawn by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On December, 17, 2014, there was N3m withdrawal by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
“On December 22, 2014, the sum of N950,000 was withdrawn by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On Decenber 24, 2014, there was withdrawal of N980,000 by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On January 6, 2015, there was N2 million withdrawal by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On March 16, 2015, the sum of N650,000 was withdrawn by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On March 20, 2015, there was N3 million withdrawal by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.”.
Also admitted as exhibits include the account opening package, bank statements, mandate documents raised by Oronsaye and other documents.
Justice Olasumbo Goodluck, however, adjourned further hearing till today for the cross-examination of the witness.