17th October, 2011
The trial of the immediate past Registrar of the Veterinary Council of
Nigeria, Dr. Daniel Garba Maddo, and two other staff of the council, Dr. Hilary Ibe and Mr. Alexander Abafi, both former Director of Finance and Administrative Officer respectively, over an alleged misappropriation of N90.7 million belonging to the council resumed on Monday before an Abuja High Court presided by Justice Talba Mohhammed.
At the proceeding, a principal witness to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,Â Mr. Bennard Nafagah, a legal practitioner, told the court how he was briefed by the Veterinary Council in 1996 to acquire 2 hectares of land for the council and how he succeeded in acquiring plots No. 11 and No. 18 in Kubwa Commercial Layout.
He also told the court how the embattled former Registrar and Dr. Hilary Ibe each briefed him in 2005 and 2002 respectively to acquire lands for them too as well as to regularise a Power of Attorney over a land transaction.
The former officials were alleged to have conspired and converted properties belonging to the Veterinary Council, including landed properties, to themselves while in service of the council without any monetary compensation to the council.Â Â Â
They were also alleged to have inflated the nominal roll of persons working in the council and thereby defrauding the Federal Government of funds running into tens of millions of naira.
Counsel to Dr. Hilary Ibe, Mr. Isaac Okpanachi, opposed the attempt to tender some of the documents used in the land transaction by the EFCC’s witness.
Â He argued that the documents did not satisfy the requirements of the new Evidence Act. The court declined the invitation to dismiss the documents.
Justice Mohammed observed that the opposition to the admission of the documents in evidence was primarily as to where the document emanated from and held that the identity of the official of Bwari Area Council who certified the documents was clear and unambiguous and that it substantially complied with the provisions of the Evidence Act.
He held that the objection lacked merit and dismissed it even as the documents were admitted in evidence.
Dr. Maddo, who recently embarked on terminal leave from the council, fought to retain his office even while the matter was still pending but was forced to proceed on terminal leave following a letter written to the Board of Veterinary Council by the whistle blower, Mr. Emmanuel Ebirim, who threatened to drag the board to court for the interdiction of the embattled former registrar.
Mr. Ebirim was responsible for the EFCC’s investigation of the council and the subsequent arrest, detention and arraignment of the officials.
The matter was adjourned till 14 NovemberÂ for testimonies of other witnesses to be called by EFCC.
By Nnamdi Felix / Abuja