The Kaduna zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arraigned one Alhaji Modu Kotoko for criminal breach of trust, obtaining by false pretences and cheating before Justice Mohammed Tukur of the Kaduna State High Court.
Kotoko’s journey to the court began when the anti-graft agency received a petition from the Managing Director, Waram Nigeria Limited, Abdullahi Wuroji.
The complainant alleged that in 2018, the defendant introduced himself as an aide to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and lured him to give him 13 brand new cars, shoes and clothes worth N65.6m and N34.4m on the pretext that Atiku requested the vehicles and money to prosecute 2019 presidential election.
The complainant further alleged that he released the 13 brand new cars and goods worth N100.4m to the suspect, adding that the defendant bolted after receiving the items and cash.
The acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, explained in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, that investigation revealed that Atiku never requested for the cars and money from Kotoko.
Kotoko pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The counsel for the EFCC, Y. Matiyak, asked the court to fix a date for the commencement of trial and prayed that the defendant is remanded in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service.
The counsel for the defendant, Sule Shuaibu, however, pleaded with the court to grant his client bail to enable him to prepare for his trial, but the prosecution opposed the application basing his argument on the magnitude of the offence.
Justice Tukur adjourned the case till March 25 (today) for ruling on the bail application.
Meanwhile, the EFCC has presented three witnesses against a Permanent Secretary at the Borno State Road Maintenance Agency, Abba Yusuf.
Yusuf is facing amended 36 counts before Justice Aisha Kumaliya of the Borno State High Court, Maiduguri.
He is being prosecuted alongside a transport officer, Mustapha Kura, and a cashier, Abubakar Mustapha, for criminal conspiracy, forgery, obtaining money by false pretences, misappropriation and diversion of public funds.
This was contained in a separate statement in Abuja on Tuesday by Orilade.
Testifying as the first prosecution witness, Mustapha Muhammad narrated how transactions made by Kura and the first defendant did not conform to financial regulations.
Led in evidence by the EFCC counsel, Mukhtar Ahmed, the witness said he was in court because of a petition he wrote to the EFCC in respect of a financial transaction that took place while he was the chief accountant of BORMA.
He said, “On June 20, 2011, I was called by Abba Yusuf, who informed me that over N400m was released to BORMA and he directed me to write a cheque amounting to N75m.
“I asked him to write an approval to that effect and he said it was an emergency and that he would oblige me with the approval later.
“I wrote a cheque for N20m, N25m and N30m, respectively, and handed over the same to Yusuf as requested by him. Even though it’s my duty to cash money from the bank, Yusuf, being among the signatories, could also do that.
“After insisting and making an effort to get approval for the said funds in order to raise a voucher, I was transferred out of the agency.”
The acting Chief Accountant of BORMA, Muhammad Shuaibu, while testifying as to the second witness, told the court that in 2011, he was posted to maintain the financial records of the agency, but was invited and questioned by the EFCC in respect of the payment vouchers he updated.
He said, “I was showed some vouchers and asked about their authenticity and I answered in the affirmative because all the vouchers were attached with approvals.
“Though the vouchers were supposed to be raised by the PW1, he did not do so. Around June 2011, the PW1 was transferred from the agency and I took over from him. During that time, I raised the vouchers for N10m, N25m and N30m, respectively.”
Justice Kumaliya admitted and marked as exhibits the petition written against the defendant and seven payment vouchers.
The case was adjourned till March 25 (today).