SURE-P Funds: Awareness was created for stroke centre establishment – ICPC witness

Saidu, while being cross-examined by counsel to the defendants, John Nnaemeka Egwuonwu (SAN), admitted from the documents he read out in the open court that ‎the defendants, who are the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer respectively as well as other directors of the centre have injected additional funds into the project and have not also collected a single kobo as salaries and allowances since the project began.

An Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission witness in the ongoing trial of a United Kingdom-based Professor of Neurology, Reuben Oluwakinmilehin Obaro, and his wife, Ayodele Olubunmi Obaro, a practicing nurse in the UK,‎ Saidu Mohammed, has told a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Zuba that a seminar was held in Abuja in December 2014 to create awareness about the establishment of stroke centre in Abuja.
Saidu, while being cross-examined by counsel to the defendants, John Nnaemeka Egwuonwu (SAN), admitted from the documents he read out in the open court that ‎the defendants, who are the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer respectively as well as other directors of the centre have injected additional funds into the project and have not also collected a single kobo as salaries and allowances since the project began.
When asked whether he was aware ‎that a consultant was hired to source for loan for the project from NEXIM Bank and Bank of Industry, he said he did not bother to extend his interview to the two banks.
He said: “We did not interview any official of NEXIM bank during the course of investigation because we felt it was not necessary.
“Our investigation was strictly on the petition that was before us.”
The ICPC witness also admitted that he did not understanding the nature of the equipments needed for the stroke centre when the quote for equipment cost alone was in excess of N2 billion was presented to him.
He also claimed that he did not know that the couple live in the UK as he has never followed them there.
The defence however accused ICPC of tendering before the court extract of the documents they felt would be favourable to their case, knowing fully well that all the documents were relevant to the case.
At the end of the cross-examination, Egwuonwu sought to tender the bundle of documents in the matter as exhibit but was objected to by counsel to ICPC, Osuobeni Ekoi Akponmisingha.
In his objection, Akponmisingha said the proper foundation for the tendering of the has not been laid.
He said: “The proper foundation for the ‎tendering of the document has not been laid.
“They did not specify which document is crucial ‎to their case.
“They did not tell the court whether they have submitted the originals of the documents to the ICPC.
“Where are the original documents‎?”
Egwuonwu, in his response‎, said  all the documents submitted to the prosecution are relevant to the case of the defendants.
He said the documents‎ had been submitted to the commission since 2016 and, therefore, they cannot turn around and object to the tendering of the documents.
He told the court that the prosecution cannot pick and choose which of the documents in the bundle presented to the court they can certify and bring before the court as evidence.
He said what the prosecution did choosing and picking which of the document to certify as evidence before the court amounts to persecution of the defendants and not prosecution.
They were charged to court for allegedly misappropriating N233.6 million.
The SURE-P money in question was a SEED grant and not counterpart funding.
The Medical Doctor and his wife were charged to the court for allegedly misleading officers of the Commission, frustrating investigation and misappropriating funds meant for the establishment of a stroke centre in Nigeria being funded partly by the defunct Subsidy Reinvestment Empowerment Programme and personal money of the Professor and his wife.
The case has been ‎adjourned to October 17 and 25, 2018.
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