Sixth witness in Turaki’s alleged N714.6m fraud trial, says ex-minister paid N359.1m without due process
The trial of a former Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Tanimu Turaki, continued on Tuesday with the testimony of the sixth prosecution witness.
The sixth witness, Okunrinboye Tomison Titus, told Justice Inyang Ekwo of Federal High Court, Abuja that there was no Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE) from the former minister to support his disbursement of N359.1 million.
The disbursed sum, he said, was for the ministry’s nationwide programme of sensitisation and enlightenment of Muslim youths on hate speech and religious intonation under the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Led in evidence by prosecution counsel, M.S. Abubakar, Okunrinboye, who was the Central Pay Officer in the minister’s office, disclosed that when he noticed that the sum was transferred into the ministry’s account without AIE, he informed the director of Finance and Accounts (DFA) in the ministry, whom he said told him that “the money was for a special project and that it was very urgent.”
He, however, disclosed that the account which the money was paid into was for recurrent expenditure and not for projects.
While he waited for the AIE from the minister, the DFA, he said, gave him two papers with the names of beneficiaries, their account details and amount to be transferred but that there was no signature on the papers. The papers he said were later signed but that there was never AIE.
“Up till now, there was no Authority to Incur Expenditure, no proper documentation, but the money was paid,” Titus said.
According to him, a transfer of N45 million was made to one Abdullahi Bagudu from the project’s sum and N50 million, through him in cash to Samson Okpetu, the second defendant.
He denied being aware of a proposal for sensitisation contract from Samtee Essentials, (one of the defendant companies) and award of consultancy contracts to the company.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter till November 11, 2020, for continuation of trial and further cross-examination of the witness.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Turaki, alongside his special assistant, Sampson Okpetu and two companies: Samtee Essentials Limited and Pasco Investment Limited on a 16-count charge, bordering on fraud and misappropriation to the tune of N714,6 million.