A Federal High Court in Abuja was on Tuesday told how the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) paid N1.4 billion to 78 firms including Destra Investment Limited owned by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman, Olisa Metuh for non-existent contracts.
The shocking disclosure was contained in a document – an electronic mandate – tendered before the court by the prosecution in Metuh’s trial before Justice Okon Abang.
The document, tendered through a legal adviser of the ONSA, Mr. Bali Ndam, was said to have been issued by former NSA Sambo Dasuki, to the Abuja branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), authorising various sums of money running into N1.4 billion.
“What is written on the document is payment for security services,” said Ndam, while testifying in the case. Ndam was led in evidence by lead prosecution lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir.
Although the prosecution accused Metuh of receiving N400 million from the ONSA for the presidential campaign of the PDP, Ndam, when confronted with the document by Metuh’s lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) read out the document, where it stated that the ONSA paid Metuh for providing “three operational vehicles.”
Ndam, who testified as the third prosecution witness, said investigation into the arms scandal was informed by a petition from NSA Babagana Monguno, dated November 28, last year. According to the witness, “a list of companies and individuals about 78 in number” was attached to the NSA’s petition to the EFCC.
Ndam said he remembered very well that Metuh’s firm, Destra Investments Limited, now charged with Metuh, was one of the 78 beneficiaries of the allegedly fraudulent payment.
“On November 28, 2015, the ONSA forwarded a letter to the Chairman of EFCC and the title of the letter was ‘payment of contracts without award’ for their necessary action.
“The letter forwarded a list of companies and individuals covering almost about 78. The one I can remember vividly is Destra Investment Limited.
“Following the letter, the EFCC sent a letter to the ONSA requesting e-payment mandate for these companies. The (EFCC’s) letter, dated January 13, 2016 and signed by one Ibrahim Musa.
“The ONSA replied the request of EFCC forwarding the list of e-payment mandate, number 0799 to the EFCC on January 14, 2016. It was signed by one M. Abdulraheem, Group Captain. After the letter was forwarded to EFCC, I was also invited to write a statement which I did,” Ndam said.
Effort by Ikpeazu to prevent the admission of the document and petition as exhibits failed as the judge overruled Ikpeazu’s objection.
While being cross-examined, Ikpeazu told Ndam that his witness statement was made after the charge against Metuh was filed, was only “procured to manufacture evidence to entangle the defendants”.
The judge is expected to take argument today in Metuh’s pending application for variation of the conditions of bail granted him by the court.
By Olisemeka Obeche