The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Monday revealed how Mohammed Gobir, a businessman and former boss of Kwara Hotels allegedly defrauded the Kwara government of N277million in 2013.
Mrs Funmilola Adejulu, an EFCC investigator, told an Ikeja High Court, that Gobir allegedly diverted the funds meant for the purchase of Armored Personnel Carriers for the policing the state to his personal use.
Gobir, an indigene of Kwara State facing a five-count charge of stealing and forgery among others, slammed against them by the EFCC.
EFCC alleged that Gobir committed the offence with his company, Mondial Defence Systems Ltd.
Adejulu was led in evidence by Mrs Zainab Ettu, the lead prosecuting counsel for the EFCC.
In a lengthy testimony, Adejulu revealed how the fraud came to the attention of the anti-graft commission.
She said: “Sometime in October 2015, the Commission received a petition dated Oct. 21, 2015.
“The petition was written and signed by one Dr William Ezenwa, he alleged that the defendants under false pretenses, obtained 756, 000 US dollars and N40.5million from him.
“The petitioner is the Country Manager of Tag4Armour Nigeria Ltd, and the company has a parent company in the United States of America (USA), named the Armour Group.
“The defendants and the petitioner entered into an agreement to procure three units of Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) for the Oyo State Government.
“The petitioner claimed that the defendant paid 350, 000 US dollars and refused to pay the outstanding146, 936 US dollars.
“Part of the allegation was that while the Oyo transaction was ongoing, Gobir informed him that he should also produce more APCs for the Kwara State Government for which he signed a contract.
“The defendant later changed the request that it should be three units instead of five for the contract with the Kwara State Government.
“The Vehicle Identification Numbers for the three units of the APCs were sent to the defendant to enable him process the End Users Certificate for Kwara State Government to be able to use the APCs.
“The petitioner said Gobir did not pay for the APCs that were produced as well as the balance for Oyo State.”
Adejulu further told the court that following the receipt of the complainant’s petition, the defendant was invited to the EFCC.
He while anti-graft agency began investigation on the issue, it wrote letters to Kwara Government, RT Capital Management and the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
“The Kwara State Government responded via a letter dated Feb. 25, it were different from the ones in its file.
“It said the dates on the attached letters were tampered with but confirmed that it awarded the defendant contract to produce and supply three units of APCs at N277m.
“Kwara government also confirmed that the total amount had been fully paid to the defendant and the payments were made between October 2012 and July 2013.
“The Kwara State Government also mentioned in its letter that the defendant had not delivered the three units of APCs.’’
She said while the state government put several demands to the defendant to deliver the APCs or refund the money, there was no response from him.
“The Kwara State Government also mentioned that it contacted the Ministry of Justice to assist in getting the defendant to supply the three units of APCs or ultimately recover the funds.’’
The EFCC investigator also said that the state government urged the commission to assist it in getting the APCs or getting back its money from the defendant.
Adejulu also revealed that Gobir, in his statement to the EFCC, admitted receiving the funds from the coffers of Kwara State but failed to supply the APCs to the state.
“He mentioned that he did not engage the Armoured Group in the US to produce the three APCs and that the production was being handled by a Dubai-based company.
“He, however, could not produce any document related to the Dubai-based company for the said APCs.”
Adejulu said Alhaji Umar Sidiq, a Director in the Kwara State Government, was contacted as part of the investigation.
“Sidiq mentioned that the Kwara State Government initially awarded contract for the supply of two APCs to the defendant at N184.6 million.
“Sidiq said because of the needs of the state at that time, it included one more APC at a unit process of N92.3million, bringing the total of the APC contract to N277million.
“Sidiq stated that the defendant was fully paid and up till that time had not delivered the APC units.
“Sidiq said all the letters of demand from the Kwara State Government to the defendant were not replied and he only replied by phone calls, saying that he was working on them.”
The EFCC investigator also gave an account of how the businessman converted the funds from Kwara State Government to his personal use.
“The response from Wema Bank revealed that the defendant received the said sum from the Kwara State Government.
“Further analysis of his statement of account showed that the defendant moved funds at different times to various Bureau De Change.
“The Bureau De Changes were: Mamu Nuah BDC, Binda Hunde BDC, CP Express Ltd and RT Capital Management.
“The commission wrote to RT Capital Management and they responded that they received funds from the defendant.
‘’They said on his instructions of the defendant, the money was converted to dollars and transferred to the defendant’s personal account with HSBC in London.
“One Mrs Julie Ola, the General Manager of RT Capital Management was invited to the commission and she confirmed that on the instructions of the defendant, the dollar equivalent was transferred to his account in the UK.
“The response from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the commission confirmed that the three Vehicle Identity Numbers were genuine with the End User Certificate that the NSA produced.
“The End User Certificate had the defendant as the vendor for the three units of APCs for the use of the Nigeria Police, Kwara State Command,” she said.
Following Adejulu’s disclosure, Ettu tendered the petition, Gobir’s statement, the EFCC letter to the RT Management Company and Julie Ola’s statement as pieces of evidence.
The Judge, Justice Josephine Oyefeso, therefore marked the documents as exhibits.
Mr Y.A. Bayero, Defense counsel to Gobir, however, objected to the tendering of the anti-graft agency letter to the office of the NSA.
“The defense was not served a copy of the letter, it depicts a situation where we are being denied essential documents by the prosecution,” Bayero said.
Oyefeso, therefore, instructed the prosecution to serve the defense additional proof of evidence before the new legal year.
She adjourned the case until Sep.13 for continuation of trial.
According to Ettu, the defendants committed the offences between November 2012 and January 2014 in Ikeja.
Ettu said: “In November 2012, the defendants dishonestly converted to their use the N92.3 million, property of the Kwara State Government.
“Sometime in 2013, the defendants dishonestly converted N184 million, also belonging to the Kwara State Government.
“The monies were collected under the guise of supplying three units of APCs to the Kwara State Government but the APCs were never supplied.
“The defendant forged three documents, the first on Oct. 10, 2013 titled Letter of Award of Contract with reference number – S/GS/157/7/123.
“The second was on Dec. 28, 2013 a letter titled Letter of Award of Contract with reference number S/GS/157/VII/535.
“The third was on Jan. 17, 2014 titled Letter of Intent with reference number: S/GS/157/T/15.
“The three letters were purportedly from the Office of the Secretary to the Kwara State Government in relation to the bogus contracts.”
According to the EFCC, the offence contravenes Sections 285 (9) (b) and 363 (2) (b) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.