Iwejuo Joseph Nna, a banker with Heritage Bank Plc, told a Lagos Federal High Court on Monday that he was being witch-hunted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged N4.6 billion fraud because of his refusal to make indicting statements against Dr. Warimapo Owei-Dudafa, standing trial in connection with the case.
He is currently facing trial on amended 23-count charge bordering on conspiracy and concealment of the alleged fraud.
Nna, in his evidence-in-chief, told the court that upon his arrival at the office of the EFCC, he was told that he was not the target of their investigation but Dudafa, and that if he cooperated with them, he would be left off the hook.
He said the commission’s officials threatened that if he refused to implicate the first defendant he would be prosecuted for the offence committed by the former presidential aide.
“I told them that I couldn’t understand what they meant, and they asked me if I had a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who would be ready to defend me, and that I should be prepared for the consequences if I refused to cooperate,’’ he said.
He further told the court that he was not the only one invited by the anti-graft agency on the matter, adding that the bank’s Head of Operations, Yenagoa branch, Mr. Ademola Folorunso, who had earlier testified against the first defendant was invited as well as one Stanley Nwogu, the branch head of Fund Transfer.
He denied having any personal relationship with the companies listed in the charge except official relationship as the Account Officer responsible for those account.
“I have no personal relationship with any of the companies. I only manage, in my official capacity as the account officer,” he said.
He further told the court that he had no official role in the process of opening the account which was opened at the bank’s headquarters and not in Yenagoa.
Besides, Dudafa, a former Senior Special Assistant to Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, disclosed to the court in Lagos that he only acted on the presidential directive in the payment of N15 million to the GTBank account of one Itekesi Florence on May 6, 2015.
Asked if he knew one Itekesi Florence, Dudafa said: “Yes. I know Florence; she is the first cousin to ex-President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. She is the house keeper of the ex-President’s House in Yenagoa and Otuoke, and I have cause to carry messages to her in the course of running errands for the former president.”
When asked to confirm from exhibit F, if he had in the past asked one Mr. Bashir (a Bureau de Change operator) to send N15 million to the GTB account of the said Florence, the defendant said he was not sure as it was a long time.
He, however, said he had on several occasions, on the directive of the ex-President, sent money to Florence which were transferred to her account by Bashir.
Dudafa further told the court that after ex-President Jonathan lost the 2015 general election, he decided to make preparation to return home and, in the process, needed to renovate his residence in Yenagoa and Otuoke which were handled by Florence, his house keeper, and that on several occasions, he had cause to direct the transfer of funds to her on the directive of the former president.
Inquired on a text message he allegedly sent to Bashir requesting to know the exchange rate of dollar to naira, the defendant said he made the request from the Bureau de Change operator, based on the request of ex-President Jonathan who wanted to send money to her cousin and asked him to find out the rate so that he could know the equivalent of dollars to send to her.
When re-examined by his lawyer, Mr. Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), leading Ademola Adefolaju, on why no money was transferred to the Otuoke Anglican Communion Church which he claimed that the donation from Prince Arthur Eze was meant, Dudafa said “my role was to take money and pay to people or institutions.”
He added: “I am not the owner of the account. I was only given instructions by the ex-President to remit. I am also not a signatory to the account. It is a private account which I have no say about how the money in it should be spent.”