An Abuja Federal High Court will on September 18, 2013 deliver judgment in a case of N787 million fraud and subversion of due process filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against former Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, BridgetSokan and six other officials of the agency.
At a sitting on Thursday, the trial judge, Justice Adamu Bello, apologised for the delay in delivering ruling on a no case submission brought by the accused persons.
He explained that his inability to deliver the ruling on November 6, 2012 was due to the overwhelming volume of cases before him.
“I have to seek your consent in summoning you all in spite of the break to re-adopt your addresses before I can proceed in delivering this ruling”, Bello said.
In re-adopting his response to all the written addresses brought by the accused persons, the prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu urged the court to be guided by the fact that the only legal requirement for consideration at this stage was whether there are legally admissible evidence and material entitling the accused persons to respond to the accusation against them by way of defense.
He further prayed the court to call upon the accused persons to enter into their defense as there is legally admissible evidence for them to do so.
Earlier, the team of defense lawyers which include Caleb Muftwang, I.K. Ijeoma, R.Okotie Ebohand Oluwole Aladoyin gave a brief of their written addresses as regarding their dates of submission and went on to re-adopt same in support of their no case submission.
One after another, they urged the court to discharge their clients as, according to them, there was no case against them.
The case which has lingered for five years has seen the EFCC calling up several witnesses including Ahmed Modibo Mohammed, former executive secretary of UBEC; Shamsudeen Umar, assistant manager, Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC; Usman Tahir who was part of the investigation team from EFCC and Ben Agweye, a forensic expert.
From their testimony, four of the six companies that bided for the supply of plastic chairs and desk to all junior secondary schools in the federation had no evidence of registration with the CAC.
They further stated that there was no competitive bidding process leading to the award of contract, neither was there any newspaper advertisement in line with extant procurement regulations.
It was also revealed by the evaluation report that over N787 million was paid as mobilization fee representing 85% of the contract sum as against the 25% in the contract agreement.
The other accused persons who were first arraigned on May 18, 2009 on a 63-count charge of fraudulent inducement, criminal conspiracy and subversion of due processes in the award of contract and other offences are Molkat Manasseh Mutfwang, Andrew Ekpunobi and Michael Aule.
Others are the companies used in perpetrating the fraud, including Intermarkets USA;Intermarkets Nigeria Limited and Alexander John Cozman, a foreign contractor.