A Federal Capital Territory [FCT] High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, has on Monday commenced definite hearing on the criminal charges brought against the chairman of George Uboh Whistleblowers Network [GUWN], Dr. George Uboh.
During the proceedings on Monday, the prosecuting counsel called up his first witness, one Johnson Olabode Akinkunmi, the Director of Legal Services of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN].
Under cross-examination by the prosecution team, Mr. Akinkunmi recounted how on April 3, 2019, the CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele received a petition from Dr. Uboh.
Upon receipt of the said petition, Mr. Emefiele immediately summoned a meeting of the apex bank’s management, according to him and set up a panel wherein he served as the secretary.
He said that the petition narrated how the GUWN chairman alleged that CBN failed to disclose and remit a whopping sum of $760 million being sales from foreign exchange to bureau de change operators.
The petitioner also alleged that CBN failed to remit another $24 million to the coffers of the federal government thereby depriving the government of revenue.
According to the petition, between May 2015 and June 2016, CBN officials, in connivance with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC]officials, deprived the three tiers of government a whopping $1.78 billion.
The mother of the allegations says that CBN officials colluded with MTN, Standard Chattered Bank and Stanbic IBTC Bank to defraud the government to the tune of $27 billion.
Akinkunmi claimed that he later saw two publications online accusing Emefiele of diverting the said sums to his personal use.
He, Akinkunmi, downloaded the publications following which he petitioned the Inspector General of Police since, according to him, CBN panel found the accusation baseless and unfounded.
He concluded by claiming before the court that it is impossible to move such amount out of the bank due to rigorous documentation.
The Defence team later took the stage and tried to disparage the said document upon which Akinkunmi based his narratives citing Section 37, 38 and 39 of the Evidence Act and asked the court to discountenance the document.
Despite glaring evidence to that effect, however, the presiding judge overruled the objection and admitted the document into evidence.
The prosecuting team later submitted the publications as to the court as evidence.
The judge, who by then has shown evidence of bias against the whistleblower’s counsel called upon the defence team to interrogate Mr. Akinkunmi.
The defence, however, sought for adjournment to enable him study the material and prepare for cross-examination. That was when hell was let loose.
The judge fumed and threatened and insisted that defence cross-examine Akinkunmi. All pleadings fell on deaf ears as the judge stated that he is geared to round off the case in the nearest possible time.
He later adjourned till tomorrow for cross-examination, saying he will conduct the hearing on day-to-day basis.
Both defence and prosecuting teams will return to the court for continued legal fireworks.
Mc Ebisco will bring updates from the court.
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