ARRAIGNMENT OVER 2.3BIL FRAUD, EX-MINISTER PERM SEC TO TESTIFY AGAINST ORUBEBE

imageAhead of their arraignment tomorrow, the Federal Government has lined up 11 witnesses to testify for the prosecution in the case of alleged diversion of about N2.3 billion meant for dualisation of Section IV of the East-West road involving ex-Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godsday Orubebe, and three others.

Orubebe, Oludare Lawrence Alaba (an assistant director, Ministry of Niger Delta Affiars), Ephraim Tewolde Zeri (director of Contracts in Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nigeria Limited and the company are named in the charge, marked: CR/265/2016

Among those scheduled as prosecution witnesses are Orubebe’s successor in the Niger Delta Ministry, Dr. Stephen Orise Oru, a former Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, two senior personnel in the ministry – Annietie O Effiong and John Ngene.

Also included are a senior official of the Federal Ministry of Works, Joseph Gande (who claimed to have been assigned to, among others, monitor execution of the project), consultants and community leaders in Akwa Ibom State.

They were initially scheduled to be arraigned before Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on August 18. It was shifted to August 30 when prosecution lawyer Osuobeni Akponimisingha told the court his agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) was yet to effect service of the charge on the defendants.

The Nation learnt yesterday that the prosecution altered the charge, raising the counts from five to six.

According to court documents filed last week, Dr. Oru is expected to testify in relation to his role in the project as Niger Delta Affairs minister from 2014.

It was learnt Oru may testify that on assuming office, all relevant decisions in relation to the single lane running through Eket Town had been taken.

In a proof of evidence served on the defendants, Oru is also expected to speak among others, that “a meeting of stakeholders was convened by his predecessor, Godsday Orubeb, where the deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State, elders of Eket community, chief of staff to ex-Governor Godwill Akpabio and others attended.”

On his part, Ngene is expected to state all he knew about the contract and how “the compensation fund of N2.3 billion was released to Messrs Gitto Construzioni Generali Nigeria Ltd for further release to the appointed consultants for disbursement to beneficiaries, which Messrs Gitto Construzioni Generali Nigeria Ltd failed to do.

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