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Ex-President Jonathan Not Needed To Prove Case Against Metuh – EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said it does not require former President Goodluck Jonathan as its witness in order to prove its money laundering case against the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Olisa Metuh.

The EFCC stated this in its response filed before Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja to oppose the no-case submission by Metuh.

Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, are being prosecuted by the EFCC on seven counts fraud.

The charges include allegations that he fraudulently received from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November, 2014 the sum of N400m meant for the procurement of arms and money laundering involving $2m cash transaction.

The prosecution alleged that part of the N400m was used by Metuh to fund the PDP’s presidential campaign for the 2015 election in which Jonathan was the party’s candidate.

After the prosecution closed its case, Metuh on February 18, sought and obtained the leave of court to file a no-case submission.

In the no-case submission, Metuh urged the court to discharge and acquit him on the grounds that the EFCC had made no case against him with the eight prosecution witnesses called and all the documents tendered.

Metuh, who filed the no-case submission through his lead counsel, Mr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), argued that the prosecution could never have been able to make any case against him without the EFCC calling Jonathan as a witness in view of the testimony by PW5 (fifth prosecution witness).

He argued that since PW5 (the Managing a Director of CMC Connect, Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya), had testified that he made presentation on a media campaign proposal to Jonathan and for which money was paid from the N400m, the former President was a vital witness that ought to be called by the prosecution.

Justice Abang had fixed Thursday to entertain argument for and against the no-case submission.

Meanwhile, the EFCC, in its response, which it filed on Tuesday, urged the court to dismiss the no-case submission, insisting that Jonathan was not needed to prove its case.

It stated, “My Lord, in paragraphs 2.22 to 2.25, the defence also contends that the prosecution, through PW8 (EFCC’s investigative officer, Junaid Sa’id) failed to investigate the statement of the 1st defendant (Metuh) to the effect that presentation was made to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and that the sum for the exercise was paid into the 2nd defendant’s account (Metuh’s firm, Destra).

“It is further contended that the former President, to whom the presentation was made for which the payment was made, is therefore a material and indispensable person in order for a prima facie case to be established.

“Learned senior counsel (Metuh’s lawyer) therefore alleged presumption of withholding of evidence by the prosecution.

“In response to the above argument my lord, we submit that nothing can be farther from the truth. The defence cannot pick and choose witnesses for the prosecution and as rightly pointed out by the defence, the prosecution is not required to call a host of witnesses or a particular witness in proof of its case.

“What the law requires the prosecution to do is to call material witness(es) in proof of its case.”

The anti-graft agency, through his lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, urged the court to dismiss the no-case submission filed by Metuh and his firm and direct them to give an explanation to “the overwhelming oral and documentary evidence placed before the court by the prosecution.”

Insisting that a “prima facie case of money laundering has been established” against the accused, Tahir added, “Your Lordship is further urged to dismiss or discountenance the no-case submission and call upon the defendants to enter their defence.”

Concerning counts one and two, Tahir argued that the evidence led by the prosecution was uncontroverted “as it raises a prima facie case of taking possession and control of the stated sum (N400m) and therefore calls for an explanation by the defendants and this they can only do in their defence to the charge”.

On the other leg of the two counts, alleging that the N400m was part of proceeds of alleged corrupt act of the immediate past NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), Tahir asked whether it was not unlawful for the ex-NSA “to have, in breach of public trust reposed in him, misappropriated government funds in favour of the defendants, who on the evidence, had no contractual dealings with the ONSA”.

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On count three in which Metuh and his firm were accused of retaining or concealing the sum of N400m, the EFCC argued that the accused “retained the sum of N400m on behalf of the PDP for its campaign activities by concealing the said sum in their Diamond Bank account.

It said Metuh ought to have known that the fund “directly represented the proceeds of an unlawful act” of the ex-NSA.

Concerning count four, Tahir stated that the prosecution had led evidence to show that the N400m was used for campaign activities of the PDP and other personal purposes.

On counts five and six relating to making cash transactions of a sum of $2m, far above the statutory threshold of N5m for individuals and N10m for corporate bodies, the anti-graft agency alleged that the accused violated Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.

The EFCC stated, “The point to note in this transaction are the following, which are vital:

“The origin of the initial sum of $2m, which belongs to either of the defendants remained undocumented (which goes against the very essence of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act i.e. financing terrorism and disguising, concealment or laundering the origin of illicit funds.”

The anti-graft agency added, “All the above points my lord, go to show the length to which the defendants went to conceal the origin of the $2m.’’

Meanwhile, the EFCC said some Asian countries, especially China, are frustrating its anti-corruption efforts.

The Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, said this on Tuesday in Abuja when the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria paid the commission a courtesy visit.

The representative from First Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Nelson Uduak, had earlier lamented that Japan and China were not helping Nigeria in the area of anti-fraud cases.

He said, “Some countries appear very difficult to operate in. There are some countries in which our banks have lost money. There are some fraudsters which we are able to trace but once the money gets to certain countries like Japan or China, you find out that there is no cooperation.

“If it is the United States, you can be sure to a large extent, that once you can identify the person (suspect), you will get cooperation; but there is no such cooperation in the Asian countries. We don’t know how you can help us.”

Magu, in his response, agreed that China had not been helpful in the anti-graft war.

He said, “The cooperation from the Chinese end has been very minimal, it is not encouraging. There is more collaboration from the US, the United Kingdom and Switzerland essentially through INTERPOL or government to government.”

Magu added that the EFCC was tracing a $2bn fund belonging to First Bank, which was transferred to London, but did not explain further.

The EFCC boss also urged bankers to assist in the fight against corruption as the commission could not do it alone.

“You are auditors while we are investigators; so, in a way, we are doing the same thing. We need to synergise, work together. We are all stakeholders and we are in a war. We also ask for your support,” he said.

The representative of Heritage Bank, Mr. Manny Ugbomah, urged the commission to give its personnel the permission to travel out of the country with bank representatives whenever they were carrying out trans-border investigations.

The Chinese embassy in Nigeria could not be reached for comment as its spokesman, Chen Pen, did not respond to calls and a message sent to his mobile on Tuesday.

The Japanese embassy could also not be reached for reaction as its Media Relations Officer, John Nwankwo, could not be reached on the telephone.

PUNCH


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