AN operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Kajethan Egerue, has testified against two Oyo State based businessmen, Jimoh Aremu Oderinde, and Sheriff Olaseni Ajaga, accused of allegedly using the name of the former Comptroller- General of Nigerian Customs Service, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, to obtain N30.7million under false pretence.
Egerue, who was testifying before Justice Kudirat Jose of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, in his evidence-in-chief, told the court that he knew the defendants following a petition written by one Jimoh Oyesiji dated February 9, 2015.
The duo of Oderinde and Ajaga were arraigned before the court by the anti-graft commission on a seven – count charge bordering on conspiracy to obtain money and obtaining money by false pretence contrary to Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offence Act No 14 of 2006.
While being led in his testimony by EFCC counsels, Mrs Vera Agboje, and Olakunle Afolabi, the witness told the court that the defendants collected the money from the complainant as cost to facilitate the release of his goods, which were seized by the Nigeria Custom Service.
He explained further that the complainant sometimes in 2014, imported 8,000 bags of rice,* which was seized by the Nigeria Custom Service, and Oderinde told him he knows someone working with the presidency that will facilitate release of the goods.
According to him, Oderinde then arranged a meeting between the complainant and Sheriff Ajaga, who acted as George Olawale, and at the meeting, he asserted that he had discussed the matter with custom boss, Alhaji Dikko.
“Before the meeting, the first defendant (Oderinde) collected the sum of N200, 000.00 to facilitate the meeting and second defendant collected N1million. Then the second defendant (Ajaga) forwarded a First bank account to the complainant which he instructed his business partner to transfer the N29.5million into,” Egerue said.
He further told court that operative then wrote the bank to get account details of George Olawale and the bank responded.
“From the response, we discovered that the sum of N29, 500million was paid by the complainant. We also got to know that N7million was transferred to one Toyin Oderinde, wife of the first defendant. Then N7million was also transferred to the second defendant’s Diamond bank with account name Oderinde.
“When Toyin Oderinde was invited, she said her husband (Sheriff) transferred the money into her account. The second defendant instructed the first defendant how to transfer the money, Ajaga alias Olawale was subsequently arrested.
“Ajaga used N7.8million to purchase a Honda Accord, 2014 model. The car was later collected from him and registered as exhibit. He then agreed to refund the money while Oderinde transferred money to Agro Company Limited to buy a tractor, which was then recovered at Owode in Oyo State and he made a refund N2million.
However, under cross examination by the defendant’s counsel, Olanrewaju Ajanaku, the witness affirmed he did discreet investigation, saying there was no prior business transaction between the complainant and defendants.
Egerue said in the cause of investigation, he did not come across anything showing the defendant had a quarry business before the incident.
“Investigations did not reveal any business relationship between the first and second defendants. I did not know that the tractor was sold for N4million and he refunded the money.”
He stated that he did not visit the custom office to see the goods, but both defendants made statements to that effect and when asked for the document which the complainant used to instruct his business partner to transfer money to defendant he said, “the complainant gave verbal order.”
The case has been adjourned till November 22, 2016 for further hearing.