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Alleged NBC N2.9bn Fraud: Witness Counters Defendant’s Claim in Trial-within-trial

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Prosecution witness, Jackson Joseph Edet, in the ongoing trial of former director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Emeka Mba and four others before Justice Mojisola Giwa-Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, debunked the claim of the second defendant Patrick Areh that he made his statement to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC under duress, stating that the second defendant, made his statements to the Commission voluntarily and willingly.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is prosecuting Mba alongside Patrick Areh, Basil Udotai, Babatunji Amure and a company, Technology Advisors, for alleged diversion of NBC funds to the tune of N2.9billion, being funds meant for the purchase of set-up boxes for digital switch-over from analogue.
Edet, a member of a six-man special team, constituted by the EFCC, to investigate the alleged fraud, stated this in a trial-within-trial, that was necessitated by Areh’s about-turn on his statement to the EFCC.

Edet recalled that Areh on his own volition, informed the EFCC of his intention to volunteer statements to the Commission on the alleged fraud, following which the head of the special team, constituted by the EFCC and the12th prosecution witness (PW12), Abubakar Madaki, ensured that Areh made his statement in the presence of a lawyer or any other person he trusted and that following this position, Areh made his statement in the presence of one George Obi, a legal practitioner with the National Broadcasting Commission.

“So, I brought out the statement form and writing materials, and this took place in the Executive Chairman’s conference room. Madaki, administered in English some words of caution, and Areh confirmed that he was ready to continue with the statement by signing the cautionary,” Edet stated.

According to Edet, “Afterwards he was left alone with Obi to fill the statement form. At the end of filling the statement, it was read over to him in English and he reaffirmed by signing the statement and EFCC operatives signed as witness. My lord, the statement was made voluntarily.”

Further in his testimony, Edet disclosed that Areh in his statement before the investigators said he benefited from the N390million that was given to the Finance directorate of NBC and that he told the investigators that he benefited N20million in one of the transactions.

Edet equally stated that Areh told the EFCC investigators that he benefited another N15million from Inview Company Limited, and that he has the sum of N50million in his Heritage Bank account and that he wanted to start making refunds of the money but would want to make additional statements. The witness further told the court that Areh revealed how funds were disbursed and how he got to know about Technology Advisors.

Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo adjourned the case to February 26 of and March 3, 2020, for continuation of trial.

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