Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Dimeji Bankole, yesterday, failed to persuade a Federal High Court in Abuja to reject fresh set of incriminating evidence entered against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Bankole who is answering to a 16-count criminal charges bothering on contract inflation and abuse of office, had on May 21, begged the trial court to ignore the evidence which EFCC said would prove his culpability in an alleged N894m contract scam.
Arguing through his lead counsel, Chief Wale Akonni, SAN, the embattled ex-speaker, queried the admissibility of the proof of evidence which he insisted were irrelevant to the criminal case upon which he is standing trial before the high court.
Specifically, the anti-graft agency alleged that he rigged bid for the purchase of three units of Mercedes Benz S-600 cars, two units of Range Rover vehicles (without bullet proofs) and 400 units of DSTV systems, by refusing to follow all the procedures prescribed for public procurements in Sections 17 to 56 of the Public Procurement Act No.14 of 2007, leading to a loss of value to the national treasury and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 58(4)(e) of the Public Procurement Act, No.14 of 2007 and punishable under Section 58(5) of the same Act.
Ruling on the matter, yesterday, Justice Donatus Okorowo who dismissed the objection raised by the ex-Speaker, said he was satisfied that the documents were duly certified.
Okorowo noted that the primary contention of the accused person was that some pages were missing from the documents, saying Bankole’s counsel ought to raise the issue in his written address.
Consequently, all the documents were yesterday admitted into evidence and marked as exhibits.
Meantime, the court fixed September 24, 25, 26 and 27 to continue the trial, shortly after it concluded the cross examination of the 2nd prosecution witness, Mr Adeboye Adeniyi, an investigative officer with the EFCC who tendered letters of agreement that the House of Representatives under Bankole’s leadership, entered with some companies that allegedly took part in the alleged illicit contract deal.
It would be recalled that a lead investigator with the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Ahmed, who earlier testified before the court, narrated how fake companies were awarded contracts amounting to N894 million during the period Bankole held sway at the House of Reps.
The witness said spirited efforts by the agency to trace the benefiting companies proved abortive as they were non-existent.
He said the investigation was prompted by a petition that was lodged before the anti-graft agency by Bankole’s colleagues in the House of Reps, led by Mr Dino Melaye.
“My Lord, after our thorough investigations with the C.A.C, and close perusal of the documents used by the then leadership of the House of Representatives under the accused person in the award of the said contracts, we found out that the contact details of the beneficiary companies were non-existent, letters sent to the purported addresses on the contract papers, were returned two weeks later for reason of non existence of the addresses,” he added.