By Ovasa Ogaga,
This may not be the best of time for Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, the lawmaker representing Delta North senatorial district at the National Assembly; as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday opened its case against him.
Nwaoboshi, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is facing a two-count of conspiracy and money laundering instituted by the EFCC, at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
The EFCC on Wednesday called two prosecution witnesses in proof of its charges against the senator.
The first witness, one Prince Kpokpogiri, said he petitioned the EFCC after he received an anonymous call and some documents at his office in Asaba, Delta State.
Kpokpogiri, who runs a non-governmental organisation and a real estate firm, added that he was subsequently invited to the anti-graft agency’s office in Abuja, to adopt his petition.
According to Channelstv report, during cross-examination, the witness said his petition did not contain a list of the firm’s Board of Directors because it was not mandatory.
He also noted that it was not his duty to investigate the content of his petition before forwarding same to the commission.
“I only investigated by going through the documents; I did not contact the defendants because it is the work of the EFCC,” he told the court.
But a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Anthony Idigbe, claimed the witness is working with the EFCC.
Meanwhile, the prosecution called its second witness, Murtala Abubakar, to give his testimony before the court.
Abubakar said Suiming Electricals Limited, the third defendant, applied for a loan at the Nigerian Export-Import Bank in December 2013, and it was approved in April 2014.
The witness, who heads the Enterprise Risk Management Unit at the bank, claimed Senator Nwaoboshi is a former board member of the bank.
He alleged that when the meeting to take a decision on the loan request was held, the lawmaker indicated his interest in the transaction and was recused from the deliberation.
Abubakar said the EFCC made five requests to the bank on Suiming Electricals, starting from June 2017, in respect of the loan transaction granted to the company.
He added that the company met all the bank’s conditions before the loan was disbursed.
The witness said although the third defendant had repaid over N1billion of the loan, it is still a non-performing one.
“The loan facility is for five years. There is a difference between paying and performing.
“When we give a loan, we give you a payment plan. When you are supposed to be paying N1million quarterly but you are paying ₦200,000, you are paying but you are not performing,” Abubakar explained.
The EFCC counsel, Wemimo Ogunde, requested for an adjournment to enable him assembles the remaining four witnesses.
Consequently, Justice Mohamed Idris adjourned the matter till July 2 and 3, for the continuation of trial.
Senator Nwaoboshi was charged by the EFCC with two counts alongside two firms – Golden Touch Construction Project Limited and Suiming Electricals Limited.
Count one of the charges accused the lawmaker and Golden Touch Construction Project Limited of fraudulently acquiring a property known as Guinea House situated at Marine Road, Apapa in Lagos, between May and June 2014, at a cost N805 million.
The charge stated that the defendants ought to have known that N322 million out of the purchase price formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
In Count Two, Suiming Electricals was accused of aiding Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Projects Limited to commit money laundering offence.
The Senator, who was detained for days by the EFCC, is currently on bail after he was released on self-recognisance.