The Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja has been told that the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation (AG-F), Ahmed Idris, voluntarily returned about $900,000 in cash.
Recall that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting embattled AG-F and three others over alleged N109.5 billion fraud.
The EFCC on October 26, 2022, re-arraigned Idris and three other defendants – Olusegun Akindele; Mohammed Usman and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited before an FCT High Court, Maitama.
They were first arraigned on July 22 before a vacation judge, Justice Adeyemi Ajayi on 13 counts bordering on misappropriation of N109.5 billion.
However, upon the resumption of the court, the case was transferred to Justice Yusuf Halilu.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
However, during the resumed trial on Wednesday, EFCC witness, Hayatudeen Ahmed, while testifying told the court that the cash returned by Idris was part of the public funds he allegedly diverted.
Led in evidence by EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Ahmed, who testified as the first prosecution witness, gave details of how his team investigated a petition in which Idris was accused of abuse of his office and compromising government’s platforms, such as the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIVMIS), among others.
The witness said when Idris was confronted with facts, “he (Idris) returned $900,000, less $100 ($899,900) voluntarily, which has now formed part of exhibit in the case.”
He said out of the N84.7 billion that was shared among some government officials, N32 billion has been recovered so far.
The witness also told the court how Idris allegedly hired his ex-aide, Akindele, as a consultant to distribute N84.3 billion out of the N84.7 billion.
He said Akindele later gave Idris N4.2 billion in appreciation for his engagement as the consultant to handle the distribution of the money.
The Nation quoted the witness to have said: “After the petition was assigned to our team, investigation commenced. We wrote to banks, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and other government agencies.
“From analysis of bank documents received, we discovered that a Baita Kura of B. I. Kura Enterprises, a bureau de change operator, made several deposits of money amounting to N280 million between 2019 and 2021 into the account of the fourth defendant – Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Ltd.
“Based on this finding, Baita was invited. He admitted in his statement that those monies that he paid into the first defendant’s (Idris’) account, were given to him by the first defendant.
“We discovered that the payments made were on the instruction of the first defendant.
“We also discovered from other bank statements analysis that a certain Architect Mustapha Muktar of Marcs and Construction Ltd received various sums from Baita Kura, amounting to about N866 million.
“Based on this, we invited Architect Mustapha, who gave a statement and explained that the money he received from Baita was on the instruction of the first defendant,” he narrated.
The witness claimed Mustapha said Idris asked him to use the money for the construction of the Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange in Gezawa Town, Kano.
He said his team learnt of the agitation by nine oil-rich states about the lack of deductions of 13 per cent derivation accrued to them from the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
The witness added: “It was discovered further that this agitation was tabled before the Post-mortem sub-committee of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).
“The committee deliberated on the request and came up with a figure of about $2.2 billion as what was due to the nine oil-producing states. And, that deductions for this payment would be made over a 60-month period.
“A total of 11.5 per cent of the total sum, which is equivalent N84.7 billion, was set aside as facilitation for some public officials to approve and release the request. This was done under the guise of consultancy.
“The services of Olusegun Akindele & Co, a firm belonging to the second defendant (Akindele), was used for this purpose.
“The proprietor of Olusegun Akindele & Co is the second defendant – Godfrey Olusegun Akindele, who was until recently, a staff of the office of the AG-F and a technical assistant to the first defendant.
“The account of Olusegun Akindele & Co received the cumulative sum of N84.3 billion, representing 9.8 per cent, less taxes from the 11.5 per cent that was set aside earlier.
“He received the money in his First Bank account, from the FAAC withheld Escrow account, under the control of the first and third defendants (Idris and Usman).
“The third defendant is Mohammed Kudu Usman, a former director in the office of the AG-F.
“When the statement of account of Olusegun Akindele & Co was received, we analysed it and found that after the receipt of N84.3 billion, it was shared among five groups.
“The first group was the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) group, represented by a commissioner in the commission, by the name Chris Akumas. It received 2.2 per cent out of 9.8 per cent, which amounted to N18.7 billion.
“After the second defendant received the money, he converted the amount to United States (U.S.) dollars and handed same to Chris Akumas for members of that group.”