7th December, 2015
A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of a former Imo State governor, Ikedi Ohakim, has told Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja how the former governor allegedly gave him the sum of $2, 290,000.00(Two Million, Two Hundred and Ninety Thousand Dollars) to purchase a piece of land at Plot No. 1098 Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District, otherwise known as No.60, Kwame Nkurumah Street, Asokoro, Abuja.
In his testimony on Monday, December 7, 2015, Abu Sule, told the court that he met the accused person in Lagos State sometime in the mid-nineties while he worked as a consultant on a project to which the accused person was a contractor.
Led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Festus Keyamo, Sule, Managing Director, Tweenex Consociate H.D. Limited, further told the court that the accused person, whom he described a ‘‘senior friend and benefactor’’, did not sever his relationship with him, after he had become governor.
In his testimony, he said: ‘‘Before 2008, Chief Ohakim had requested that I find him a house that he could buy in Asokoro. I later found a house at Plot No. 1098 Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District, otherwise known as No.60, Kwame Nkurumah Street, Asokoro, Abuja. Immediately, I informed him about the property and he trusted my judgment on it.
“I told him the price, which was N270m and he provided the money in cash. It was $2.290m then and he paid in one tranche. I received the money from him at the Imo State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, at night.”
Sule further told the court that he called one Alhaji Isah Muntair Maidabino the following day and arranged to meet him at the Unity Bank, Maitama Branch, Abuja.
According to him, Maidabino, upon receipt of the money, decided to off-set some loans he had obtained from the bank immediately.
He added: “When I collected the original documents of the property from Maidabino, I informed Chief Ohakim and also asked for the name to use on the Deeds of Assignment and Power of Attorney. After some delay, he said I should use my Company’s name. I agreed to do it because he had been my benefactor.”
When asked if the house was given to him as a gift, Sule told the court that the property had never been his.
Speaking further, he said: “I gave the original documents of the property to Chief Ohakim, but I only have photocopies.”
Both the Sales Agreement and Deeds of Assignment documents were tendered by the prosecution counsel and admitted in evidence as Exhibit EFCC 14 A and B by the court.
Testifying further, Sule also stated that the accused person instructed him to carry out the renovation of the house, which was done over a period of one and a half years before he allegedly handed over the house to him.
According to him, “in 2012, Chief Ohakim made me do a tenancy agreement, after mounting a lot of pressure on me. We gave him an offer letter and he wrote an acceptance letter to us. It was accompanied with three cheques for N20 million. We issued him a receipt and tenancy agreement.”
The prosecution counsel also tendered copies of the various correspondences between PW2 and the accused person, which were all admitted as Exhibits EFCC 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 A and B.
When asked if he had ever written a letter demanding renewal of the rent by the accused person given that the receipt he earlier issued to him (the accused person) would have expired in April 2014, he answered in the negative.
He also told the court that the accused person had not contacted him about his tenancy since the supposed tenancy expired in April 2014.
While explaining what he spent the N20 million he collected from the accused person for, he said, “Chief Ohakim gave me the money to renovate his property on 8, Halie Sallassie Street, Asokoro. We later handed the property to him, after the renovation.”
The defence counsel led by Awa Kalu, SAN, raised no objection to the testimonies by PW 2.
However, counsel to the defence prayed the court for the release of the accused person’s international passport, which was submitted to the court in fulfillment of the bail conditions, granted him on Thursday, July 9, 2015, to enable him travel for medical check abroad.
Justice Ademola granted interim release of the accused person’s international passport to enable him travel for four weeks to undergo medical check; but ordered that the accused person must surrender his international passport to the Court Deputy Registrar within 72 hours of returning from his medical trip abroad.
The defendant’s surety must also give a written undertaking to guarantee the appearance of the accused person in court, failing which he would be held in place of the accused person.
The case has been adjourned to January 26 and 27, 2016 for continuation of trial.