EFCC Witness Against Turaki Admits Embezzling Huge Funds
A prosecution witness, Mr Titus Okunrinboye, presented by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to testify against a former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Taminu Turaki, on Wednesday, confessed to looting contract funds while serving in the ministry as the Head, Central Pay Office.
Okunrinboye, who now serves as an accountant at the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, was presented before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja as the sixth prosecution witness in Turaki’s ongoing trial on 16 counts of money laundering.
Turaki, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, presided over the Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, otherwise referred to as, FMSDIGA, from 2013 to 2015 and served as the Supervising Minister of Labour from 2014 to 2015 in the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
Specifically, the EFCC alleged that about N200m out of the sum of N359m paid to the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs for a special sensitisation project, was diverted by the minister and his aide in January 2015.
Earlier testifying as the sixth prosecution witness on Tuesday, Okunrinboye had told Justice Ekwo that the N359m was disbursed without proper documentation.
But under cross-examination by defence lawyers, Joe Kyari-Gadzama (SAN) and Ayo Ajibade (SAN), the witness admitted operating seven different personal bank accounts aside the corporate accounts of his three companies.
The witness, who is currently serving as an accountant at the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, also admitted to have forfeited another sum of N535m and a house in Abuja, which he said were proceeds of his loot from the ministry, to the EFCC.
Under further cross-examination by two other defence lawyers, Mr Abdulaziz Ibrahim and Nasir Seidu, the witness admitted diverting proceeds of contracts and sharing them with the then Director of Finance and Administration of the FMSDIGA, Mr Vincent Odafe, who had earlier testified in the case as the fifth prosecution witness.
Confronted with facts about his activities as the Head of Central Pay Office of the ministry, Okunrinboye admitted that one of his companies got a contract to supply grinding and sewing machines for the sum of N49m.
He admitted that he shared the proceeds of the contract with members of staff of his office and Odafe.
He also admitted that another of his companies, Overwhelming Pinnacle Synergy Limited, got an N84m contract which was never executed and the proceeds also shared among him, Odafe and members of staff of his office.
He was confronted by a defence lawyer, Ibrahim Abdulaziz, that “Your boss (Prosecution Witness 5) got N45m and you got N20m and the balance was shared among the members of staff of your office,” and Okunrinboye answered “yes”.
The judge adjourned the case till December 16, 17 and 18.
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