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EFCC Continues Fraud Case Against FIRS Official

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Wednesday, July 23, 2020 presented additional two prosecution witnesses in the trial of Emmanuela Eteta Ita and Surestart School, before Justice F.O.G. Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The EFCC is prosecuting Ita, former Head of Stakeholders Unit of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and Surestart School, on a 25-count charge of corruption, fraud and criminal misappropriation of funds to the tune of N145,819,000 (One Hundred and Forty-five Million, Eight Hundred and Nineteen Thousand Naira), an offence contrary to Section 18 and punishable under Section 15(2) and (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No.1 of 2012).

One of the charges read: “That you, Emmanuela Eteta Ita, while being the Head of Stakeholders Unit of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and Surestart School Ltd between January 16, 2019 and March, 2019 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, knowing that the total sum of N145,819,000 (One Hundred and Forty-five Million, Eight Hundred and Nineteen Thousand Naira), transferred by Emmanuela Eteta Ita into the UBA Plc account No. 1013797194 operated by Surestart School Limited, represented proceeds of unlawful acts to wit: corruption, fraud and criminal misappropriation of funds belonging to FIRS and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 and punishable under Section 15(2) and (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No.1 of 2012).”

Nnamdi Ayogwu, a compliance officer with United Bank for Africa, UBA, who was presented as prosecution witness two (PW2), identified the account opening package of Surestart School Ltd, which he said Ita was the sole signatory and of account opening package of Ita’s private account. The account package was among the exhibits, tendered by prosecution counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, marked as Exhibit 2(one to 72) and Exhibit 3(one to 55).

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, the witness disclosed that the account, with number 1009478935 in the name of Eteta Emmanuela Ita was an individual current account, while the one with number 1013797194 in the name of Surestart School Ltd was a current account for SMEs.

Disclosing the record of financial flows into the account of Surestart School Ltd, PW2 revealed that there was a transfer of N3.5million (Three Million Five Hundred Naira) to the School on September 28, 2017, and a transfer of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) to it on October 10, 2017. He further disclosed that there was another transfer of N10million (Ten Million Naira) to the school on October 9, 2018 and also N11million (Eleven million Naira) to school on October 23, 2018.

After his cross-examination by counsels to the first and second defendants, Paul Orokoro and Useini Musa respectively, the prosecution presented the third prosecution witness, (PW3), Awonsel David Mosugu, owner of a hospitality company, Lo Mein Express, who told the court that he was called upon sometime in May, 2019, by the EFCC to make clarifications on some documents which he said he had no knowledge of the issues they contained. The said document was marked Exhibit Four (One to 43).

He also claimed today that the documents in the exhibit did not emanate from his company, LO MEIN EXPRESS and that he received no money on the receipt of the documents.

He told the court upon cross-examination by counsel to the first defendant, that most of his staff, are on contract and that the FIRS was not his only client.

It could be recalled that the prosecution presented the first prosecution witness (PW1), Remi Ugwu, a banker with Zenith Bank, against the defendant on Wednesday, July 22, 2020.
The matter was adjourned till November 10, 17 and 18 2020 for continuation of trial.

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