Justice I.E Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Lokoja, Kogi state has been told how Yahaya Abubakar, former Chairman, Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, took a personal loan of N17m from the United Bank of Africa Plc, UBA and used Local Government fixed deposit account as collateral.
EFCC witness, Mr Michael Wetkas, while being led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu, said that Abubakar took a loan from UBA on January 19, 2009, to execute a personal project but used Local Government fixed deposit account as collateral. He further said that when Abubakar defaulted in his loan obligations, the council funds was liquidated to pay off the N17,440,795.00 which was recovered at principal interest by the bank.
The offence, the witness said, is criminal conversion and abuse of public funds for personal gains.
Wetkas further disclosed that in the course of investigating the allegations against the former council Chairman, the Commission wrote to the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Bank PHB( now Access Bank), UBA, and Ministry of Lands and Urban Development.
The letter to ministry of lands, he explained, was to “avail us with experts, which they obliged and it revealed inflation of contracts awarded, irregularities in contracts executed”.
Wetkas also informed the court that findings from FIRS on tax liability showed that of the about N629 million paid to contractors, the Local Government was suppose to pay 5% VAT to FIRS but that not a kobo was remitted.
Defence Counsel, Barrister S.I Ameh, citing section 83 of subsection 91 of the Evidence Act, opposed the EFCC investigation report dated August 23rd 2010, from which the prosecution witness was giving his testimony.
He said since the accused was arraigned on March 31st 2010, investigation report of August 23rd 2010, cannot be used to give evidence in the case.
But prosecution counsel, Shittu said going by the amended charge dated November 14, 2012, the EFCC investigation report of August 23rd 2010, remains valid.
According to him, “in criminal proceedings, time does not run against mistake”.
He added that three issues to be considered in admitting the document are: whether the document is relevant to the case; the nature of the document tendered, whether it is private or public document and if it is a public document, whether is it certified. Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter till January 28th 2013.