Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel has been accused of diverting state funds.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has told the Federal High Court in Lagos that Udom Emmanuel spent state funds to hire many top Nigerian defenders to represent him in the electoral court where his election victory as governor in 2015 was being challenged.
An EFCC investigating officer, Abdulraman Arabo, told the court that the governor hired the immediate past president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro (SAN), who, in turn, invited other SANs to join him, and that N1.4bn of legal fees paid to SANs were drawn from the Akwa Ibom state account treasury.
Arabo said this at the resumption of Usoro’s money laundering trial before Judge Rilwan Aikawa on Thursday. Usoro faces six amended money laundering charges.
Also named as defendants in the case are Akwa Ibom State Finance Commissioner Nsikan Nkan; the State Accountant General, Mfon Udomah; the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko; and the cashier of the Akwa Ibom State House of Government, Margaret Ukpe.
In Thursday’s proceedings, EFCC prosecutor Usman Buhari, through investigator Rabo, presented Usoro’s Access Bank account package as evidence before the judge.
The prosecution also presented the statements made to the EFCC by the SAN, whom Usoro invited to accompany him to attend to Emmanuel’s electoral petition. The court accepted the statements as evidence.
In response to questions from the prosecutor, the investigator said that after the Akwa Ibom state treasury paid him a legal fee, Usoro returned $ 55 million to the state Attorney General.
During questioning, Usoro’s attorney, Offiong Offiong (SAN), asked the investigator: “During your investigation, did you see that the money in question was for legal fees for the service rendered to Governor Udom?”
In response, the investigator said: “It is a payment made by the government treasury for the prosecution of the governor by a court of personal choice.”
When Offiong pointed out to the investigator that his bribery claim against Usoro was “scandalous”, the investigator said: “My lord, what I said in my main evidence was that this defendant (Usoro) submitted the sum of N55m in the Prosecutor’s account General of the State Government of Akwa Ibom and Commissioner of Justice, Dr. Uwemedimo Nwoko “.
Judge Aikawa suspended the session until January 18 and 20, 2021 to continue with the proceedings.