A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of the founder of Daar Communications and Holdings Plc, Raymond Dokpesi, has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that payments made to the defendant were legitimate by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s standard.
The witness, Aliyu Mohammed, a staff of the Central Bank and manager of its payment section, said disbursements made to Daar communications were in conformity with the due process for such by his office.
Mr. Dokpesi is facing trial for alleged involvement in the diversion of billions of naira meant for the purchase of arms by the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
The broadcast magnate was absent at Wednesday’s sitting.
Mr. Mohammed had said during examination by prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, that disbursements of funds follow a given procedure where verifications for payment-instruments are made before they are finally authorised.
“The procedure for payment is such that the paying organisation will bring the payment instrument through an officer authorised to do so. The officer will confirm the mandate before us by writing his name, signature, status, phone number and thumbprint as well as the date. After we receive it, it will be passed for verification.
“The verification will include cheque of the authorised signatories of that account, (operators of the account). The mandate must also be written in a letter headed-paper. The date and account number to be debited will also be included.
“After the verification exercise we will check whether they have complied with all due processes for the payment. We will then pass it for payment and debit the account stated in the mandate while crediting the beneficiary accordingly,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed added that his office had authorised the disbursements of over N2 billion in four trenches to Daar Communications from payment-instruments forwarded to them, (CBN) by the office of the NSA, early last year.
He said the payment mandates received from the office of the NSA were signed by Mr. Dasuki and the Director of Finance at the NSA, S. A. Salisu.
The payments were for the purposes of media campaign by Daar communications, he said.
During cross-examination by counsel to Mr. Dokpesi, Wole Olanikpekun, Mr. Mohammed said similar disbursements are currently ongoing at the CBN, from payments instruments passed on to his office in the same manner, as was done under Mr. Dasuki.
The following conversation ensued between the defence counsel and the prosecution witness:
Mr. Olanikpekun: Did you follow the due process before the account was opened for the said payments?
Mr. Mohammed: Yes we did.
Mr. Olanikpekun: Are Dasuki and Salisu still the signatories now?
Mr. Mohammed: No it is the present NSA and his director of finance.
Mr. Olanikpekun: While the signatories to the account has changed. The procedure for payment are still the same. Are you still following the same procedure?
Mr. Mohammed: Yes we are following the same procedure.
Mr. Olanikpekun: Apart from the authorised signatories. You also have another column to show that the payments were duly confirmed.
Mr. Mohammed: There is provision for confirmation before me.
Mr. Mohammed then explained that other payment instruments were contained in the same documents as those used for transfer of funds to Daar Communications presented in court.
He said N2 billion was paid to a company, A. R. security solutions, for personnel support, while N500 million was paid to Dalhatu investments for equipment’s procurement.
He added that over N600 million was paid to fund the Presidential Air fleet, from the while N13. 6 million was also paid for supply of rice to Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs.
Another payment of N75 million was also made to CinC Security Department.
Other payments were made to accounts belonging to various beneficiaries, including Onile Nigeria Ltd, which received N200 million for consultancy services: Vibrant Resources Ltd, N450 million for security service; and Jawaz Multipurpose E-Venture Ltd which received N148 million as payment for supply of security equipment.
Several other beneficiaries were also paid based on Mr. Dasuki’s instructions, he said. These include General Hydrocarbon Ltd whose account was credited with N100 million as payment for energy consulting and another sum of N293.5, million which was said to have been paid from funds belonging to the NSA for de-radicalisation project.
Another N400 million was also paid to Coose Ltd for supply of security equipment, said Mr. Mohammed.
Asked whether the payments made were all legitimate, Mr. Mohammed responded in the affirmative.
Mr Olanikpekun: All the payments on the vouchers are legitimate.
Mr. Mohammed : Yes sir; they are.
The prosecution counsel, Mr. Jacobs, visibly surprised by his witness’ testimony, attempted to question Mr. Mohammed based on his last response; but the defence counsel objected.
An argument ensued.
After the argument, the trial judge, John Tsoho, asked the witness to clarify his response and he repeated what he had said.
“Because they have complied with all the due process. We are comfortable and the process is legitimate to us,” said Mr. Mohammed.