A contractor on Wednesday told a federal high court judge in Abuja that he paid N2.5 million in several tranches to a worker of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) as appreciation and not bribery as alleged.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission presented its first prosecution witness against the former chief maintenance officer of NEMA, Ganiyu Deji, who is alleged to have collected N2.5 million bribe from the contractor.
The spokesperson of the commission, Wilson Uwajuren, on Wednesday, in a statement, said Mathew Bala told the judge Jude Okeke, that the monies he transferred to the suspect “were in appreciation of the agency’s staff who work under Mr Deji”.
According to the EFCC, Mr Bala is the managing director of Rekinat Global Resources Limited, which had the contract to supply fuel to the NEMA office.
Mr Deji is facing a three-count charge that borders on official corruption.
He was arraigned in February 2019, alleged to have received kickback from Rekinat Global Resources Limited.
According to the EFCC, investigations revealed that funds were found to have been paid into the defendant’s account from Rekinat Global Resources Limited.
The witness said he made a transfer from the company’s account to Mr Deji’s personal account with Diamond bank to the tune of N592,000; another N615,000 was transferred to his account in 2016.
“Sometime in late 2015 when the defendant took charge of NEMA’s Maintenance Department, I made a transfer from the company’s account, Rekinat Global Resources Limited, domiciled in FCMB to Deji’s personal account with Diamond bank to the tune of N592,000; another N615,000 was transferred to his account in 2016.”
He added that yet another N500,000 was transferred to the defendant’s account around May 2016 “and another N617,000 towards the end of 2016.”
Mr Bala, who has been a contractor supplying 11,000 liters of diesel to NEMA since 2011, informed the court that the money transfers to the defendant were in appreciation of the staff of the agency who work with the defendant.
“I sent it (money) to him as a thank you to his staff, to take care of his staff in the office,” the witness said.
During cross-examination by the defence counsel, Oluranti Oluwole, the witness told the court that Peter Osema, a junior worker “in charge of the generator was sick and paralysed”.
The witness said NEMA had made an appeal to staff and contractors to assist in taking care of his (Osema) medical bills.
He said the monies paid into the defendant’s account were to help Mr Osema.
He further disclosed that the defendant personally notified him of the condition of the sick staffer “and made a financial appeal to him on his behalf.”
Explaining the role of the defendant as the staffer in charge of the agency’s generators, the witness said “the defendant sends in a request for the supply of diesel which then goes to agency’s Store and Audit Departments”.
According to him, when the diesel is supplied, “it would be received by the Audit and Store Departments which will verify the quantity and quality of the product supplied before it will be handed over to defendant’s Maintenance Department”.
The matter was adjourned to November 6, for the continuation of trial.
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