Alleged N2.9bn fraud: Prosecution’s absence stalls trial of Mba, others

THE trial of former Director General of Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Emeka Mba and three others over alleged N2.9 billion fraud in the award of set of boxes for digital switch,  could not go ahead on Monday as the prosecuting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and a prosecution witness were absent in court.

When the matter came up yesterday before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, counsel to the second defendant, Paul Erokoro (SAN), informed the court that he ran into the prosecution witness, Salisu Majidadi in Lagos over the weekend, and that he told him, he would likely not to be in court on Monday.

He said based on that fact, he was of the opinion that the case would likely suffer adjournment.

Justice Kolawole said in view of the observation made by Erokoro and for the fact that the prosecution counsel and witnesses were absent in court, the case was adjourned till March 21, 27 and 29, 2018 for the continuation of the trial.

Recall that Mba was arraigned alongside the Director of Finance and Accounts at the NBC, Patrick Areh, and two businessmen, Basil Udotai and Babatunji Akure,  who were allegedly used to launder the funds.

The four defendants were charged on an amended 15-count charge, bordering on conspiracy and money laundering, which they pleaded not guilty to.

The EFCC had alleged that Mba and Areh used their positions at the NBC to corruptly enrich themselves by illegally diverting funds into Zenith Bank Plc accounts of companies operated by the 3rd and 4th defendants.

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The anti-graft agency said the funds were subsequently wired back to the duo via bank accounts belonging to Bureau-de-change operators.

Mba was further alleged to had, on or about August 31, 2015, awarded to 13 companies, contract for the supply of set boxes in the sum of N1.2 billion for digital switchover for the NBC, without securing approval from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPE), an offence, the EFCC said is contrary to section 40 of the Public Procurement Act No. 65 and punishable under section 58 or same Act.

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