22nd July, 2010
Justice Adamu Bello of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja today ruled that there is sufficient evidence before the court as contained in the proof of evidence attached to the charges slammed against four officials of the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, and a Lebanese contractor who were implicated in an alleged fraudulent award of contract for the supply of school furniture valued at over N80 million in November 2005.
According to the judge, “there are certain issues in the charge which will be resolved only through trial. I hereby order that the trial should proceed.â€
The accused had severally tried to abort the trial through various applications seeking that the charges against them be quashed for lack of evidence. The latest application whose ruling was delivered today followed an amendment which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, effected to the charges which increased the charges to 64 counts.
The four officials of the Commission alongside the Contractor were alleged to have defrauded the Federal Government of Nigeria to the tune of N787.9 million through the contract for the procurement of 109,440 units of plastic chairs/ desks for some primary schools in the country.
The EFCC alleged that the Lebanese, Mr. Alexander John Cozman and his company, Intermarkets USA LLC, failed to deliver the plastic chairs one year after the expiration of the contract.
The collaborating officials of the Universal Basic Education Commission allegedly went ahead to pay the company N636.2 million and another N16 million for the transportation of the chairs to the beneficiary schools.
The officials of UBEC involved in the scam are Molkat Manessah Mutfwang, Michael Mtomga Aule, Dr. Nnamdi Andrew Ekpunobi and Prof. Bridget Omotunde Sokam.
The trial was subsequently fixed for Monday 29 November, 2010.
â€”Nnamdi Felix / Abuja