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Two witnesses testify in Benue deputy speaker’s trial for alleged N5.2m fraud

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Chris Adaji

Two witnesses testified in the trial of the Deputy Speaker of Benue State House of Assembly, Christopher Adaji and the Clerk of the House, Torese Agena, for alleged N5 million fraud on Wednesday.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in June arraigned the duo before Justice S. O. Itodo of the Benue State High Court, Makurdi, for alleged misappropriation of funds.

Adaji and Agena were arraigned on a two-count charge of abuse of office and criminal misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N5,040,950.

They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, the prosecution counsel, George Chia-Yakua, presented two witnesses: Clifford Tyover Attle and Ifa Celestine Mbakaa, who are first and second prosecution witnesses, respectively.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Attle, who is an Abuja-based businessman, told the court that he had been working for the Assembly for three years as a consultant.

The witness said he processed travel documents for members, who went on a working visit and training to the United Kingdom, adding that he processed the travel documents in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 stalls alleged N5.2m fraud trial of Benue deputy speaker, clerk

“In the course of processing these documents, my general manager called me and informed me that he needed some money. I then called the clerk of the House to find out whether our payment was ready. He said the approval was ready and that they will credit our account in two days.

“I humbly requested that the clerk should advance some money to my general manager for him to process the documents and that when the money is paid, the clerk should deduct it at the source,” Attle said.

In his own testimony, Mbakaa, an assistant director of Accounts in Benue State civil service, told the court that the Assembly had the required approval to embark on a legislative tour of the UK and Belgium and that advance payment to the tune of N50 million was made to a firm, High Profile Investment Limited.

The witness further disclosed that he had the instruction of the clerk of the Assembly to deduct N200,000 and transfer it in favour of the general manager of High Profile Investment Limited.

“The Benue State House of Assembly got approval to embark on legislative tour to UK, Belgium and advance payment was made to High Profile Investment Limited, belonging to the resource person to the tune of N50 million.

“In course of making the transfer to the resource person, I got a call from my boss, clerk of the Assembly that the resource person said I should deduct N200,000 and give it to general manager of High Profile Company Limited, which I did as he directed,” Mbakaa said.

Justice Itodo adjourned the matter till October 27 for further hearing.

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