A former senior manager of the defunct All State Trust Bank Mr. Adonyi Roberts has told the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Gudu district of Abuja that a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) cheque of N1.161billion payable to the Plateau State government came into All State Trust Bank during Joshua Dariye’s tenure as governor of the state.
The sum was cleared into a “suspense account” that belonged to the bank, Roberts said.
Led in evidence by defence counsel, Garba Pwul (SAN), Roberts said that he knew Dariye and that the ex-governor operated a private account with the All State Trust Bank before it became defunct.
The witness said that Dariye operated the account with the name Ebenezer Retinun Ventures at the bank. He however denied that the sum of N1.161billion was lodged into the account.
The defendant was a signatory to an account under the name of Ebenezer Retinun Ventures with the bank, he said.
On the procedure adopted in the opening of the account, the witness said although there was no approval form for the account in the exhibit, the account was signed in the presence of one Mr. A. A. Odesa who was as then the Regional Manager North of the bank. Odesa also signed as a witness.
Under cross-examination by prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the witness said that there were two signatories to the bank account, one Ebenezer Retinun and Daniel Haruna.
However, it was Dariye’s signature that appeared under the name Ebenezer Retinun and all through the account opening package thereby making the defendant “the brain behind the account”.
He confirmed that a written instruction was sent to the All States Trust Bank by Dariye to clear the N1.161billion cheque from the CBN and disbursed it into different accounts – including N550m into the Plateau State Government’s account and N100m into the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Suouth West account. He added that the disbursement included a bank draft of over N172million in favour of Ebenezer Retinun Ventures on 19/07/2001.
While the witness confirmed that the cheque as a public fund, he said “I don’t agree that it is wrong to clear it into a sundry account”.
He, however, confirmed that on 26/07/2001 the sum of N160million was paid into Ebenezer Retinum Ventures with the narration “being part payment for CBN cheque cleared”.
The trial judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko, has adjourned the matter to the 27th June, 2016 for continuation of defence.