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N1.6 billion church donation claim untrue, EFCC insists



The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday challenged the claim that the N1.6 billion linked to a former aide of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan was a donation to the Anglican Communion in Bayelsa State.

Counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, challenged the ex-presidential aide, Dr. Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, to show evidence that any part of the money was transferred to the church.But Dudafa replied that only his former principal, Jonathan, could explain that.

The EFCC is prosecuting Dudafa for alleged fraud of N1.6 billion, alongside Joseph Iwuejo, a banker who the EFCC said was his account officer in Heritage Bank.The respondents opened their defence on Monday after the court had dismissed their applications for no-case submission. Dudafa had, while being led in evidence by his counsel, Mr. Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), contended that he was not guilty of any wrongdoing as alleged by the EFCC.

According to him, the N1.6 billion found in the account of Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited, which the EFCC linked to him, is not proceeds of fraud; but part of the money donated to Jonathan’s church in Otuoke to build St. Stephen’s Youth Development Centre.

Dudafa explained that following a fundraiser organised in Lagos, the ex-president instructed him to follow up with Prince Arthur Eze, who pledged $10 million (about N1.8 billion).

He said the Jonathan asked him to look for someone in the private sector who could help to keep the $10 million once Eze redeemed his pledge.As a result, he reportedly got an ex-military man, Somprie Omiebi, who lodged the money in the Heritage Bank account of Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited.

However, under cross-examination by the EFCC counsel yesterday, Dudafa was presented with the statement of account of Avalon and was asked to point out if there was any money transferred from the account to the church.

Responding, Dudafa said: “From Exhibit B (the account statement), no fund was transferred to the Anglican Communion of Otuoke Community. I can’t see it. It couldn’t have been because only the former president could have given directive on what to do.”Asked by Oyedepo to name the Bishop of the Anglican Communion of Otuoke Community, Dudafa said: “I don’t know; I only related with the former president.”

In the course of the cross-examination, Oyedepo asked Dudafa to point out to the court from the statement of account that a sum of N30 million was transferred on November 25, 2013 to The Jakes Fast Food and Restaurant, in which Dudafa had the highest share and often addressed himself as the chairman.

The EFCC counsel also showed Dudafa the statement of account of The Jakes Fast Food and Restaurant with the Guarantee Trust Bank. Oyedepo said: “It is correct that as of today, the funds that are in the account of The Jakes, paid by a Bureau De Change operator, Murtala Bashir, is in excess of N500 million.”

The prosecutor also led Dudafa to point out some fund transfers running to several millions of naira to individuals and firms.The case was adjourned till September 7, 2018.

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