Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday August 29, 2013 tendered an unreserved apology for the delay in ruling on a no case submission brought by former Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, Prof. Bridget Omotunde Sokan and six others in the N787 million fraud case instituted against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The other accused persons who were first arraigned on May 18, 2009 on a 63-count charge that borders on fraudulent inducement, criminal conspiracy and subversion of due processes in the award of contract and other offences are: Molkat Manasseh Mutfwang, Dr. Andrew Ekpunobi, Michael Aule and companies used in perpetrating the fraud, Intermarkets USA; Intermarkets Nigeria Limited and Alexander John Cozman, a foreign contractor.
At the resumed hearing of the case today, Justice Bello said that his inability to deliver the ruling on November 6, 2012 was due to the overwhelming volume of cases before him.
“I have to seek your consent in summoning you all in spite of the break to re-adopt your addresses before I can proceed in delivering this ruling”, he said.
In re-adopting his response to all the written addresses brought by the accused persons, the prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu Stated: My Lord, I urged the court to be guided by the fact that the only legal requirement at this stage for consideration was whether there are legally admissible evidence and material entitling the accused persons to respond to the accusation against them by way of defense.”
He further prayed the court to call upon the accused persons to enter into their defense as there is legally admissible evidence for them to do so.
Earlier, the team of defense lawyers which include Caleb
Muftwang, I.K. Ijeoma, R.Okotie Eboh,and Oluwole Aladoyin gave a brief of their written addresses as it pertained to their dates of submission and went on to re-adopt same in support of their no case submission.
One after another, they urged the court to discharge their clients as, according to them, there was no case against them.
It would be recalled that the case which has lingered for five years, has seen the EFCC calling up several witnesses including Dr Ahmed Modibo Mohammed, Executive Secretary Universal basic Education Commission, UBEC; Mr. Shamsudeen Umar, Assistant Manager, Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC; Usman Tahir who was part of the investigation team from EFCC and Ben Agweye, a forensic expert.
From their testimony, four of the six companies that bided for the supply of plastic chairs and desk to all junior secondary schools in the federation had no evidence of registration with the CAC.
They further stated that there was no competitive bidding process leading to the award of contract neither was there any newspaper advertisement in line with extant procurement regulations. It was also revealed by the Evaluation Report that over Seventy Hundred Eighty Seven million Naira (N787m) was paid as mobilization fee representing 85% of the contract sum as against the 25% in the “contract agreement”.
Justice Bello has reserved September 18, 2013 for ruling.