An ex-aide to former president Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, on Monday told a federal judge in Lagos that the N1.6 billion traced to him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was money donated for a church building project in Otuoke, Mr Jonathan’s hometown.
Mr Dudafa, who opened his defence in a N1.6 billion fraud charge instituted by the EFCC, said the money was part of a N6 billion realised from a launching for the building of St. Stephen’s Youth Development Centre.
The launching, which held in Lagos on March 16, 2013, was organised by Mr Jonathan as the grand patron of the Anglican Communion.
“From my interactions with former president Goodluck Jonathan, I know that the funds were proceeds of a launching that was conducted by the Anglican Communion of Otuoke community for the building of St. Stephen’s Youth Development Centre, Otuoke,” the former senior special assistant on domestic affairs to Mr Jonathan said, while being led in evidence by his lawyer, Gboyega Oyewole.
“About N6 billion was realised from the event. Several persons made various donations in cash and in pledges at the event while the chief launcher, Prince Arthur Eze, donated $10 million (about N1.8 billion).”
Mr Dudafa said Mr Eze’s donation was actually a pledge which he promised to redeem in batches.
He added that Mr Jonathan subsequently mandated him to follow up on Mr Eze to ensure he redeems his pledge.
“When Prince Eze started redeeming his pledge in piece-meal, the former president directed that I should get somebody in the private sector that will be able to keep the fund.
“I then brought in a friend, Somprie Omiebi, who later opened an account with a bank in Bayelsa. The naira denominated account was opened to receive Prince Eze’s money.
“Anytime Prince Eze brought any money, the former president will direct that I link up with a Bureau De Change (BDC) operator who will remit the money directly to the account opened by Somprie Omiebi. Dudafa denied having anything to do with the companies listed in the charge or even knowing the companies.
“I am not a signatory to their accounts. I am also not a Director. I know Somprie Omiebi as someone in the private sector that brought those accounts and the companies to the former president and his wife for the safekeeping of their money.
“Omiebi is the only person that knows the details of the various accounts.”
Mr Dudafa, alongside Joseph Iwejuo, is facing a 23-count charge of conspiracy to conceal proceeds of crime amounting to N1.6 billion.
The EFCC alleged that the accused persons between June 2013 and June 2015, used different companies to fraudulently launder the said money.
The accused and about five other companies are also facing a N5.1 billion fraud charge before Mr Idris.