The second prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former Head of Service of the Federation, Steve Oronsaye, has narrated, Wednesday, how the former HoS cornered N190m from the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force to himself and kept it in a secret account with the Access Bank.
Olubunmi Ojoko, who works with Access Bank, said Oronsaye as the then Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force, opened the secret acount in the name of the Presidential Committee without the approval of the Accountant-General of the Federation and was the sole signatory to the account.
The Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC), is prosecuting Oronsaye on two counts of breach of trust which he allegedly committed between 2013 and 2014 by defrauding the Federal Government of N190m using his position as the then Chairman of the Presidential Committee on FATF.
Oronsae is being accused of converting the N190m to his personal use through the investment of the fund in Access Bank Plc’s Banker’s Acceptance for a tenure of 90 days at 9 and 12 per cents interest rates “in violation of the extant financial regulations”.
Ojoko who testified as the second prosecution witness before Justice Olasunbo Goodluck of a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja, Wednesday, said she was the officer in charge of account at Access Bank when the former Head of Service operated the said account.
Ojoko, led in evidence by the EFCC’s lead prosecuting counsel, Ufom Uket, narrated how Oronsaye opened the Access Bank account on behalf of the PCFATF in 2012.
She said, “He 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.”
She confirmed that she never met any other member of the committee, including Mr. Jalal Arabi, a counsel in the presidential Villa, who served as the secretary to the committee, throughout the period the account was operated.
She said there were a total of four lodgments into the account from the CBN and other cash deposits.
She said the lodgments totalled N285m, part of which were invested in fixed deposits with part of the interests that accrued re-invested.
She said as of the time the account was closed, Oronsaye had withdrawn from the account about N150m which was partly the accrued interests on the investments, through cheques which he allegedly issued in favour of himself and various beneficiaries.
She said besides “the direct withdrawals” by Oronsaye, “there were other various beneficiaries”.
Ojoko said, “The first transfer was N50m in October 2012. The second was in April 2012 was N90m from the CBN. In May 2013, there was cash lodgment of N45m . The fourth lodgment of N100m came in December 2014 from CBN.
“After the first lodgment (of N50m from CBN) several cheques were drawn by the defendant (Oronsaye), in favour of various beneficiaries.
“The second inflow of N90m 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 N45m (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 were credited into his current account.
“The N100m (the fourth inflow) came in December 2014 and it was placed in fixed in Banker’s Acceptance for 90 days.
“The total ofinvestments and roll overs were about 28. About N150m interests accrued on all the investments.
“Now the account is at zero balance after the N163.5m in it was transferred to the Treasury Single Account.”
The witness was led to read from the statement of the account which was tendered and admitted by the court without any objection from the defence counsel.
The case was adjourned till Thursday for cross-examination of the witness.