A defence witness, Mr Olasunkanmi Adefowope, has told an Ikeja high court how he was paid to give evidence in court in the trial of the former Managing Director of the defunct Finbank Plc, Mr Okey Nwosu.
The defence witness was under cross examination by counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Rotimi Jacobs at the opening of defence before the court presided by Justice Lateefa Okunnu.
Adefowope said he only knew the defendants a few days ago and not when they were in the bank. “I knew the defendants only three days ago. I didn’t know them when they were directors in Finbank. I met them in their lawyer’s office. I wasn’t here by order of the court. The lawyers paid for my appearance, I was told to shed some light on the activities of the capital market”, he said.
The EFCC had arraigned Nwosu before the court alongside three former directors of the bank, Dayo Famoroti, Danjuma Ocholi and Agnes Ebubedike.
They are facing a 26-count charge bordering on N10.9 billion fraud preferred against them by the commission.Adefowope, a stockbroker further admitted to the court that he has never worked in a bank but a subsidiary of a bank”.
“We practice what is called Know Your Customer (KYC) as a stock broker. This is to ensure that money that is intended to be used to purchase shares is not obtained through fraud.
“In instances where I have noticed suspicious share activity, I report the activities to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and not the EFCC,” he said.
Former head of Human Resources of Finbank, Mr Bede Alugbue, who was second defence witness explained to the court that staff were always offered incentives during share offer.
Led in evidence by Mr N.K Oragbwu, one of the defence counsels, Alugbue told the court that that there was the Staff Share Trust Scheme from which incentives are given to staff.
This, he said, was intended to make them part owners of the bank through the purchase of shares.
“There was a board approval for these loans which I was aware of by virtue of my position as the head of human resources at the bank.“The Board Share Incentive Scheme started in 2008 at the same time as the staff scheme, members of the board approved it.
Alugbue hoeever denied having a close relationship with Nwosu under cross examination by EFCC prosecutors.
“I was not very close to the first defendant when we were working in the bank, I have not even seen him in five years neither have I spoken to him since we worked at FinBank from 2006 to 2009.
“I do not know the nature of the charges that Mr Nwosu is facing in court, one of the lawyers called me and told me that my name came up during the course of discussions,” he insisted.
The witness also said he had no knowledge of six companies allegedly linked to the defendants and said to have been used to perpetrate the fraud.
Mr Lanre Ogunlesi, counsel to third defendant, Ocholi, who also led the witness in evidence, told the court that his client has repaid the loans he took to purchase the shares of the bank before ye left service.
He presented to the bank a letter dated March 11, 2014 and signed by one Felicia Okozuwa, which he said was proof of his submission to the court.
The defence witness however denied knowledge of the letter.
“I don’t know how the letter was obtained, I can’t verify if Felicia signed the letter because I am not a signature expert.
Lead defence counsel to Nwosu, Mr Anthony Idigbe (SAN) again told the court that the defence was still having difficulty obtaining documents necessary for the trial.
“My Lord, the first defendant has not had access to documents with subpoenas issued by the court.
According to him, the bank it would need two months for the documents to be ready.
Idigbe therefore asked the court for an adjournment to March 29 for them to source the documents from the bank.
Justice Lateefa Okunnu granted his request and adjourned the matter to March 29 for continuation of trial.