The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Monday, March 23,, re-arraigned a former Executive Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC), Tuoyo Omatsuli and three others, for alleged N3.6billion fraud.
Omatsuli is standing trial alongside second to fourth defendants Don Parker Properties Ltd, Francis Momoh and Building Associates Ltd before the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The defendants were first arraigned before Justice Saliu Saidu in November, 2018.
On Monday, the EFCC re-arraigned them before the same judge on an amended 52-count charge.
The commission alleged that they conspired to disguise the illegal origin of the N3.6billion “being proceeds of unlawful activity; to wit: corruption and gratification.”
In another count, it alleged that the N3.6billion was a bribe received by Omatsuli from Starline Consultancy Services Ltd, a firm engaged by the NDDC to help it recover its statutory three per cent annual budgets of oil and gas producing companies in the Niger Delta.
The defendants pleaded not guilty.
Justice Saidu admitted them to bail on the existing terms.
He granted the EFCC’s application for trial to continue, following which prosecution Counsel Ekene Iheanacho called his 13th prosecution witness Usman Adamu.
Adamu, a senior EFCC detective, said Omatsuli used his position to convert the sum and acquired properties through Building Associates Ltd.
Yusuf said: “Sometimes in 2016, the commission received an intelligence alleging that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) made fraudulent transfers of funds to some companies.
“One of the companies mentioned is Starline Consultancy Services. The intelligence was accepted and assigned to my team”.
Yusuf narrated that about N12billion was received by Starline Consultancy Services from the NDDC out of which the firm also paid out N3.6billion to a company known as Building Associates Ltd in tranches.
He said investigations later revealed that Building Associates was owned by Francis Momoh (2nd defendant).
“From the money received by Building Associates, the 2nd defendant (Francis Momoh) made some fund transfers to various beneficiaries. One of them is Princely Estate. Jide Tinubu is also a beneficiary and many others.
“We also sent invitations to these beneficiaries to report to our office. They volunteered statements and also submitted documents to us as evidence of why they received the money.
“We later sent letter of investigation to the NDDC requesting for details of payments made to Starline Consultancy Services.
“NDDC responded and from the document submitted by the NDDC, we discovered that the then management of NDDC employed the services of Starline to recover three percent statutory allocation from oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta. Starline was paid ten percent of the money recovered as its commission”, the witness said.