The trial of a former governor of Nasarawa State, Aliyu Akwe Doma, and two others continued on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 before Justice Agatha A. Okeke, with a prosecution witness, Ego Abashe, the Clerk of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, revealing how the former governor had allegedly diverted the sum of N350m from the state funds.
Doma alongside Timothy Anjide, a former Secretary to the State Government, and Dauda Egwa, a former Accountant-General, are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 10-count charge bordering on money laundering and financial crimes.
The accused persons between January, 2007 and December, 2009 allegedly conspired and fraudulently laundered state funds to the tune of N8bn, an offence contrary to Section 14(1)(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004 and punishable under section 14(1) of the same Act.
At the resumed hearing today, Abashe told the court there was no approval or record by the House of Assembly for the sum of N350 million allegedly disbursed under the title of ‘‘special releases’’.
Abashe, who was led in evidence by Kemi Phinheiro, SAN, also told the court that the State House of Assembly did not initiate the disbursement of N70 million as shown to him in exhibit 23aa-cc.
He added: ‘‘I can’t recall the disbursements of N80 million as shown in exhibit 23ca; N150 million as shown in exhibit 23ab and N120 million as shown in exhibit 23ba, as there was no record or memo initiated for such releases; and there was no cheque raised for special releases in the office of the House of Assembly.’’
Abashe, who stated that he was familiar with the records of the House of Assembly even before becoming the Clerk, added that ‘‘ for additional funding, which is not captured by the budget, the Clerk will put out a memo endorsed by the Speaker of the House of Assembly and addressed to the State Executive (Governor). The Governor would approve the memo, which would be conveyed to the House of Assembly and then taken to the Office of the Accountant- General for a cheque to be released.’’
According to him, funding of the House of Assembly is initiated by a memo and not by any other means.
While under cross-examination by A. F. Yusuf regarding the disbursements, he said that he was not the Clerk as at the time the disbursements were carried out.
He, however, said the procedures for disbursement were the same and were all in the files.
Still testifying, he said: ‘‘Monies meant for security matters are not addressed to the Clerk or channeled to the Clerk, as security matters are not discussed in the House of Assembly.’’
Another prosecution witness, Abubakar Ishaq, Permanent Secretary, Bureau for Cabinet Affairs and Special Services, presented two documents titled: Expenditure Needs for the Nasarawa State Public Services and Part of Nasarawa State Executive Council Convention, which were tendered and admitted as exhibit P30 and P31, respectively.
He told the court that the documents were to guide government officials, ministries, departments and agencies particularly in areas of finances.
Ishaq, who was formerly a director in the same office, said: “It was proposed that the governor could not make expenditure above N50m. However, the Governor can expend any amount and later make ratification provided that the expenditure was done in the interest of the state and in accordance with due process.’’
When Ishaq was presented with exhibit P20, which was an approval for N496 million initiated by the Office of the Secretary to the State government, he told the court that there was no ratification by State executive council for it.
Also, going through exhibit P23 (cc), which was the approval granted by Doma for N150 million and P23 (ba) for N120 million , he told the court there was no directive to the State executive for ratification and he did not receive any ratification for it either.
The case has been adjourned to June 23, 2016 for continuation of trial.