A staff of Nigerian Export Import Bank, Murtala Abubakar, today, told a Federal High Court, Lagos, how Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, took loan from the bank and failed to pay back as scheduled.
Nwaoboshi, a People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Senator representing
Delta North Senatorial District, Delta State, is standing criminal trial before Justice Mohammed Idris led-court, alongside his two firms; Golden Touch Construction Project Limited and Suiming Electricals Limited.
They are facing a two-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering leveled against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Nwaoboshi and his firms had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and he was admitted to bail on self-recognition.
Count one of the charge accused Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Limited of fraudulently acquiring a property known as Guinea House situated at Marine Road, Apapa in Lagos, between May and June 2014, at a cost N805 million.
The charge stated that the defendants ought to have known that N322 million out of the purchase price formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
While the second count of the charge accused Suiming Electricals of aiding Mr Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Projects Limited to commit money laundering.
At the resumed trial of the accused, Abubakar who was the EFCC second witness, while giving his evidence said Suiming Electricals Limited, the third defendant, applied for a loan at the Nigerian Export Import Bank in December 2013, and it was approved in April 2014.
Abubakar, the Head of Enterprise Risk Management unit at the bank, said Mr Nwaoboshi was a former board member of the bank.
He also told the court that while the meeting to take a decision on the loan request was being held, Mr Nwaoboshi indicated his interest in the transaction and was recused from the deliberation. Adding that the senator is a director at Bildeberg, a holding company which has the majority shareholding in Suiming Electricals Nigeria Limited.
The witness also informed the court that the EFCC made five requests to the bank on Suiming Electricals, starting from June 2017, in respect of the loan transaction granted to the company. And that the company met all the bank’s conditions before the loan was disbursed.
The witness said although the third defendant had repaid over ₦1 billion of the loan, it is still a non-performing one.
“The loan facility is for five years,” Mr Abubakar said.
“There is a difference between paying and performing. When we give a loan, we give you a payment plan. When you are supposed to be paying ₦1 million quarterly but you are paying ₦200,000, you are paying but you are not performing.”
Also, Prince Kpokpogiri, the prosecution’s first witness, who also testified against the Senator said he wrote a petition to the EFCC after he received an anonymous call and some documents at his office in Asaba, Delta State.
He said he was subsequently invited by the EFCC to Abuja to come and adopt the petition.
The witness said he runs a nongovernmental organisation, Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum, as well as a real estate firm, P.K Aro Multiservices Nigeria Limited.
During cross examination, the witness said his petition did not contain a list of the firm’s Board of Directors because it was not mandatory.
He also said it was not his duty to investigate the contents of his petition before forwarding to the EFCC.
“I only investigated by going through the documents. I did not contact the defendants because it is the work of the EFCC.”
Lawyer to the Senator, Anthony Idigbe, (SANigeria), accused the witness of being an agent of the EFCC.
“I also put it to you that apart from the fact that you did not investigate the documents, you did not also take any step to verify the facts stated in the petition,” Mr Idigbe said.
However, the matter has been adjourned till July 2 and 3, for continuation of the Senator and his companies. The adjournment was at the instance of the EFCC, on the ground that it needed til to assemble its remaining four witnesses.