N238M SCAM: Ogbulafor, others stole funds with fake contracts

THE Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has disclosed that two of those charged with embattled National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, over an alleged N238 million scam, have confessed their participation in the alleged scam and returned their shares of the alleged loot.

Ogbulafor; secretary/member of the National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC), Emeka Ebilah; Director, Budget Implementation, Ministry of Finance, Emmanuel Bosah; Henry Ikoh and Jude Nwokoro, have been listed for arraignment on Monday next week over the alleged scam. 

The commission, however, said both Ebilah and Ikoh (listed as second and third accused in the charge), had returned their shares of the alleged loot, which would be used as evidence in the course of the trial against all the accused.

The disclosure was contained in the proof of evidence attached to the charge, alongside the names and addresses of witnesses that would be called by the commission in the course of the trial, with seven witnesses listed. 

One of the witnesses, Basil Momodu, an investigator with the commission, would testify as follows:

“A petition was assigned to his team for investigation, whereupon he interviewed the accused and the second and third accused gave voluntary confessional statements under caution. The second and third accused then proceeded to refund the various amounts they had got as their shares of the fraud at the NEIC to the coffers of the Federal Government.” 

Momodu, after testifying, would then tender the evidence of these refunds made by the accused. 

He would further testify that his investigations revealed that the Ebilah was a member/secretary of the NEIC, set up by the Federal Government to verify debts owed local contractors while the fifth accused was the director in charge of budget implementation in the Federal Ministry of Finance. 

He would also testify that the first accused, Ogbulafor, was the minister of state in charge of economic activities under which the NEIC operated, adding that, in the course of operations of the NEIC, the accused conspired to verify some fictitious contracts purportedly executed by companies in which they had interest and, thereafter, proceeded to ensure that these companies were paid for the non-existent contracts.

Momodu would also testify that the accused shared the monies among themselves, adding that while the second accused supplied the companies to be used in defrauding the Federal Government, the first, second and fifth accused ensured the fictitious contracts were verified as genuine by the NEIC. The fifth accused, on his part, ensured that payments were cleared and made at the Federal Ministry of Finance.

Momodu would further stated that the third accused, Ikoh, appeared before the NEIC to present the forged contract documents for verification of the debt purportedly owed Henchiriko Nig. Ltd by the Federal Government and for his role, he was paid the sum of N7,500,000, while the fourth accused, Nwokoro, who was delegated to receive the payment on behalf of Henchiriko, was paid the N6,242,622.44 through one Colonel Austin Akobundu. 

For his role in ensuring that the Federal Ministry of Finance settled the claims of the companies, the fifth accused was paid the sum of N44 million in two installments of N15 million and N29 million through a company, Emotech Nig. Ltd. 

The witness would further testify that his investigations revealed that the fifth accused instructed Ogbulafor to pay him his part of the loot through Emotech Nig Ltd, because he had an arrangement with the proprietor of the said Emotech Nig Ltd, Mr Emmanuel Okocha, to clear the cheques for him and to avoid any direct link between the second and the fifth accused. 

The fifth accused, according to Momodu, also received the sum of N10 million from the second accused through a proxy called B. C. Bosah. 

As regards the first accused, Momodu would testify that the second accused gave him N2 million directly and other amounts, totalling N28 million, through a nominee called Chris Nwoke, who the first accused confessed was his associate.

Momodu would also show that the second accused also ensured that companies he had personal interest in and which had executed contracts for the Federal Government were included among those whose debts were verified by the NEIC and paid by the Federal Government.

Meanwhile, Prince Ogbulafor may have escaped the plot to remove him by some aggrieved members of the party, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party having passed a vote of confidence in his leadership.

The NEC, which met for three hours at the party secretariat, was presided over by Ogbulafor, as members also passed a vote of confidence in Acting President Goodluck Jonathan on what it described as his heroic role in stabilising the polity since he assumed office.

It also extended the vote of confidence to the National Assembly on the role it played in ensuring the emergence of Jonathan as acting president, a development which, it noted, had promoted stability and good governance in Nigeria.

A communiqué issued at the end of the NEC meeting read: “NEC received a report on progress on the new national secretariat and expressed its delight that the contractors have been fully mobilised to site and work has commenced in earnest. NEC commended the acting president for the pivotal role he has played in the realisation of the project.

“NEC received and approved proposals for the amendment of section 12.14, 12.46, and 12.48 of the PDP Constitution, which deals with number of delegates to elect standard-bearers of the party at various levels.”

In another development, Justice Abubakar Talba of an Abuja high court, on Tuesday, held that he rescinded his decision to stop the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from holding its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held on Tuesday because those who wanted the meeting stopped would not suffer any damage if it held.

Talba, while reviewing the ex parte order he granted the suspended 19 top-notchers of the party on Monday, however, directed that those qualified to be part of the meeting among the plaintiffs should be allowed to participate and their suspension should not be an item on the agenda at the meeting.

Justice Talba had, on Monday, issued an interim injunction restraining the party, following an ex parte application brought by former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Bello Masari and 17 other aggrieved members of the PDP who were suspended.

Credit; Tribune