There are strong indications that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will as from this week start inviting individuals and firms that were indicted over a fresh contract scam in the office of the National Security Adviser.
Investigations on Saturday showed that the commission on resumption of work on Tuesday would start sending invitations to those concerned in batches and that they would be required to appear before the commission beginning from April 4.
It was gathered that the first batch would consist of 20 firms and individuals including Julius Berger Plc; a former Accountant General of the Federation Mr. Jonah Otunla, and Brig.-Gen. A.S.Mormoni-Bashir.
According to a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Sheu Garba, Otunla and Mormoni-Bashir were listed among those allegedly received payments without contractual agreements, while Julius Berger came under the list of companies that failed to execute or partially executed contracts.
A source in the EFCC, who confided in SUNDAY PUNCH, said, “As soon as we resume on Tuesday, we will start processing invitations that will be sent to at least 20 individuals and firms. They will start coming to the commission as from April 4.
Attempts to get the comments of the former Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, were unsuccessful as calls made to his phone did not go through. Similarly, a text message sent to his mobile phone was not delivered.
Also, efforts to get the Head, Media Relations Office, Julius Berger, Mr. Moses Duku, on Saturday were not successful as he neither answered calls made to his mobile phone, nor replied a text message sent to him, up till the time of filing this report.
But some officials of the company, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, had on Friday said that the firm would react on Tuesday.
We won’t refund any money —Daar Holdings
One of the indicted firms, Daar Investment and Holdings Limited, on Saturday said that it would not refund any money. The company was listed among those that allegedly partially or did not execute contracts awarded to them
A lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who spoke on behalf of the firm, said that the matter was in court.
Ozekhome stated, “It is simple and is the same subject matter of the so-called reforms that is already at the Federal High Court, Abuja for trial. There is no law in Nigeria that compels a person to make refund of any money which is the subject matter of a criminal case pending against the President. The government cannot have its cake and eat it.
“Such a stance of forcing a suspect to refund money is a way of already finding a suspect guilty and beating him with bare knuckles to refund an amount which a competent court of law may find that it was never embezzled.
“If they have gone to court already in a criminal matter saying Daar Communications violated due process of law and Procurement Act, EFCC Act and Money Laundering Act, it means they have to wait for the outcome of the case.
“They are not in a position to force or compel the company to refund an alleged amount which the subject matter of a criminal matter pending in court. If the government wants to discard with the criminal case, they can discard it and then go to court in a civil manner to recover the money as a debt.”
He said that neither the EFCC nor the presidential panel was empowered by law to be a money or debt collecting agency.
“The problem with these people is that they are getting too used to doing things with impunity without following the rule of law or due process. And the earlier they stop that the better,” Ozekhome added.
‘I used money to campaign for Jonathan’
One of the individuals indicted by the presidential committee set up to investigate contracts awarded by the ONSA said the money he received was used in campaigning for former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said he received money from an account based on the directive of former President Jonathan.
He said, “I was not involved in any contract with the ONSA. I was given a contract by former President Jonathan during the election for publicity and mobilisation and that was exactly what I did.
“When the President gives you a job to do, you don’t ask him where he got the money from. I got money for publicity and mobilisation. I will consult with President Jonathan before I speak to the press on the record.”
Military supports anti-graft war – Spokesman
Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, said that the position of the military was total support for the ongoing effort to rid the country of corruption.
He said that the mentioned military officers could be tried by a military court-martial or the EFCC because they were subject to both military and civil laws.
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