The trial of Imaobong Akon Esu-Nte, an accountant with the Nigeria Prisons Service and two others: Olukolade Olabamiji, a businessman and Mohammed Abdulkadir, a banker commenced on Thursday, March 16, with the first prosecution witness, Sini Omar, telling the court how the prison accountant conspired with the other accused persons to launder funds from the Nigeria Prisons Service into the accounts of companies in which she has interests.
Mr. Omar, an assistant superintendent of police with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, while being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Aso Larry Peters, told the court that Esu-Nte used her position as prison accountant, and connived with the other accused persons to launder money from the accounts of the Nigeria Prisons Service into Royal Mall Nigeria Limited, Transferase Ventures and I.D Integrated Petroleum in the guise of executing non existent contracts.
Mr. Omar further told the court that the first accused, Esu-Nte, was specifically questioned on how N110m and N90m was lodged into the accounts of Royal Mall Nigeria Limited (second accused) and Transferase Ventures (third accused) in January and February 2014 respectively.
When asked about the relationship between the first and the fifth accused (Esu-Nte and Mohammed Abdulkadir), Mr. Omar said both conspired to open a corporate account for the first accused in Heritage Bank in the name of I.D Integrated Petroleum Products Limited (fourth accused) with forged documents.
According to him, the mandate card has the name of Esu-Nte’s 9-year-old daughter with a photograph of an adult male, while the second mandate has a feminine name but a photograph of an adult male.
The witness told the court that the Nigeria Prisons Service never had any contract with the second and third accused.
Documents in support of these claims were tendered by the prosecution but their admissibility was challenged by the defence counsel, Titus O. Ashaolu, SAN. He asked the court for a trial within trial to determine whether the documents were voluntarily released to the prosecution.
Justice Chukwu adjourned the case to May 20 and 21.
However, the judge who had on Wednesday April 15, released the accused persons to their counsel upon arraignment, pending hearing of the motion for bail, today admitted them to bail in the sum of N100m each and one surety in like sum.
The sureties, who must not be below the rank of Director or Deputy Director in a Federal establishment, must have landed properties within the Federal Capital Territory with proof of ownership.
The sureties are to deposit their international passports with the court.
The accused persons had pleaded not guilty to an 11-count charge of conspiracy, forgery, abuse of office and money laundering brought against them by the EFCC.