Oronsaye’s Trial: Suspect told me he benefited from stolen funds — Witness

Stephen Oronsaye, former Head of Service
Stephen Oronsaye, former Head of Service

A retired operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mustapha Gadanya, has revealed how one of the suspects in the trial of a former Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Steve Oronsaye, explained how he benefited from the funds allegedly laundered through his company.

Mr Gadanya testified in a trial within trial over contestation of the statements obtained from Osarenkhoe Afe who is the second defendant in the trial.

He told Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday that Mr Afe “told him he got N35 million from the N300 million paid into his accounts”.

“My Lord, I didn’t know what he got from it. He said it himself. He was the one who wrote that he got N35 million from the deal,” he said.

Mr Gadanya, who currently works with the AntiCorruption of Nigeria (ACORN) project of DFID, said he led one other operative and a policeman to invite the accused to the EFCC office on February 24, 2011.

Messrs Oronsaye and Afe were arraigned in 2016, alongside three companies, for alleged fraud in awarding purported contracts for biometric data capturing to the tune of N292 million.

Hearing

At the resumed hearing of the case, a counsel to Mr Orosanye, Ade Okeaya-Inneh, announced that he wanted to withdraw his application for a trial within trial on Mr Oronsaye’s statements.

He said he has decided to take the issue into the main trial on points of admissibility of the statement.

But counsel to Mr Afe and his company, Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Ltd, Oluwole Aladodeye, proceded with his application to contest the statements obtained from his client.

But in his testimony, Mr Gadanya said the suspect had his statement taken in an ‘open space’ on February 24, 2011, “without any coercion”.

He said Mr Afe volunteered “a lot of information about himself and the case he was involved beyond the knowledge of the investigators”.

“He wrote it himself that he went with Maina to Oceanic Bank. I didn’t know they went. He said it and someone from the bank came here to confirm it.”

Mr Gadanya said, with the level of insights provided by the suspect in his two statements, it was inconceivable that the statement was obtained under duress.

The court at its last sitting in October had admitted in evidence the audit report on pensions payments commissioned by the Auditor General of the Federation.

In 2014, PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported how the auditor-general indicted Mr Oronsaye for the N123 billion allegedly diverted between 2009 and 2010 under his watch.

The 169-page report titled “Special Audit of the Accounts of the Civil Pensions” uncovered humongous financial irregularities, outright stealing and kickbacks.

The report found that the pension payroll was never subjected to internal audit between June 2009 and December 2010; and that over N52 billion paid as monthly pension under Mr Oronsaye remained unaccounted for.

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