Metuh trial: Witness explains N400m transfer from Central Bank

Chukwumerije Aja, Abuja

The Federal High court in Abuja, has been told that the sum of N400m was transferred from the account of the National Security Adviser’s office in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the account of Destral Investment Limited belonging to the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Olisa Metuh for a non existing contract.

The payment done in electronic form, was said to have been for security services rendered by Destral Limited.

Testifying for the prosecution in the ongoing trial of Metuh for alleged N400m fraud, a legal officer in the office of the NSA, Barrister Bali Ndam informed the court that the former NSA authorized the transfer of the fund to Metuh’s Company account.

The witness also tendered the schedule of payment which authorized CBN to make the payment to Destral Limited.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, the witness informed Justice Okon Abang that the office of the NSA, to the best of his knowledge, did not award any contract to Destral to which it received N400m.

He said that as the legal officer in the NSA’s office, whose schedule, involved legal drafting, legal opinion and contract vetting, he never came across any document indicating that a contract of N400m was at anytime awarded to Metuh’s company.

However, an attempt to tender ‎3 different documents against Metuh by the prosecution was vehemently opposed by counsel to Metuh, Chief Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, who insisted that the witness was not the author of the documents and could be cross-examined on them.

The documents were the petition, dated November 28, 2015; list of companies that benefited from the e-payments and the schedule of payment that authorized CBN to transfer huge sums to various companies and individuals during the tail end of the last administration.

Apart from claiming that the witness was not the author of the document, the SAN argued that there were discrepancies on the heading of one of the documents sought to be tendered which indicated that it is not the same as one written against the defendant.

However in his ruling, Justice Abang dismissed the objection and admitted the documents in evidence.

The judge said that the witness as a member of staff of the federal government, which put Metuh on trial, can testify and tender documents on behalf of the government or any of its agency.

Justice Abang also said that the documents did not need certification because they were mere correspondences from private organizations and individuals and not titled documents that required payment of specified amounts as demanded by law.

Under cross examination, by Ikpeazu, the witness read out a portion of the tendered document to the effect that “due process was followed in awarding and payment for the contract”.

The witness who agreed that the Administration and Finance Department was responsible for payment of contract costs and he also read out another portion in the tendered document to the effect that the “payment was for purchase of 3 operational vehicles”.

He said the schedule of payment admitted by the court which authorized the payment of N400m into Destral account was not forged and that it actually emanated from the office of the NSA and was authorized by the then NSA for implementation.

The witness also admitted that he made a statement to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on January 21, after the case against Metuh had been adjourned for trial.

He however disagreed with the defence counsel that he was procured to manufacture evidence against the defendants claiming that “it is not true that I was procured to manufacture evidence against the defendant”.

I am on oath to say the facts as they are and it is not true that I was procured to manufacture evidence in this matter simply because of my statement of January 21. As a matter of fact investigations are still ongoing.”

Hearing continues on Wednesday.