Foreign

$2.1bn arms probe: Why I returned N25m Metuh gave me — Witness

Dasuki knows fate on bail condition Monday

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA—An aide to   former Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Mr. Abba Dabo, yesterday, explained before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, why he returned N25million given to him  by the embattled National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh.

This came as an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, yesterday, fixed Monday to rule on an application by the embattled former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, (retd), seeking to quash the N32 billion money laundering charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Dabo, who was a Special Adviser to the ex-VP, Sambo, told the court that he quickly returned the money to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, after his name appeared in the list of those that  benefited from the $2.1billion arms fund largesse.

He testified before the trial court yesterday as the seventh prosecution witness, PW-7.

In his Evidence-in-Chief, Dabo, told the court that on December 16, 2015, the 1st defendant, gave him the N25m to assist him (Metuh) to intensify publicity for the re-election of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Metuh

He said that Metuh equally mandated him to publicise the campaign activities of the PDP with a view to ensuring that the party retained its hold on the presidential power.

He said: “When it became obvious that former President Goodluck Jonathan will run for a second term in office, government officials and party leaders started to meet to review the achievements of the government and prepare for the elections.

“In the course of those meetings, a lot of concern was shown in the opposition’s total control of the media. The PDP was getting negative publicity, and ministers were told to speak more to the press to enhance the image of the government.

“On my part, we set up a media support group and registered it as ‘Media Support System’ to do media work for the party. We commissioned writers to write and be paid to promote the government.

“We called it rapid response team which was successful. It was its success that led to more meetings with Metuh.

“As at then, the social media was becoming more stringent in the criticism of the PDP. Also, Hausa radio stations were vicious in the attack of the government and the party. Chief Metuh thought I could assist in mitigating this, that was why he gave me the N25m five days after the presidential nomination convention.

“With that money, we set up a team of facilitators and young IT enthusiasts to run a website called, ‘What’s Up Naija’, but we could not register it because the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, wanted it to be ‘What’s Up Nigeria”, the witness added.

The witness told the court that though he was not aware of the source of the N25m that was given to him by Metuh, he said that he voluntarily returned the money to the EFCC after his name appeared in newspaper publications.

“It was in the newspaper that I saw that the money was part of the arms purchase deal. When the money was given to me, I did not know  where it came from and I did not ask.

“I thought that Metuh got some funding from sources and I remember that he wrote a proposal to former President Jonathan on how to enhance the image of the PDP and by extension the federal government.

Meanwhile, an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, yesterday, fixed Monday to rule on an application by the embattled former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, rtd, seeking to quash the N32billion money laundering charge that was preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Dasuki who is facing trial alongside the  erstwhile Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Mr. Shuaibu Salisu and a former Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC,  Aminu Baba-Kusa , is praying the court to discharge him from the 19-count criminal charge.

Also charged over the alleged fraud were  two firms- Acacia Holding Limited and Reliance Referal Hospital Limited, which the anti-graft agency identified as conduit pipes through which the N32bn was allegedly siphoned from accounts the office of the NSA operated with both the Central Bank of Nigeria and other financial institutions.

The funds were allegedly distributed to delegates that attended the Presidential Primary Election the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, held in Abuja.

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