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Alleged $40m Fraud: We Didn’t Have a Contract with ONSA- Azibaola

The trial of Robert Azibaola, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for a $40 million fraud charge continued on February 5, 2019 with him testifying that there was no formal contract between his company and the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA.

Azibaola, a cousin to former president, Goodluck Jonathan, along with his company, One Plush Holdings, are facing a two-count charge bordering on money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption, before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, Abuja.

Under cross-examination by prosecuting counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, Azibaola had admitted to collecting the money from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, under then NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd).

Testifying as the first defence witness, Azibaola further told the court that an account was opened sometime in August 2014 with an opening account balance of $50,000.

Soon after September 19, 2014, there was an inflow of $40 million from the Office of the NSA, he said.

He told the court that it was meant for a specific assignment to resolve issues relating to oil bunkering and theft in the Niger Delta, and it was used for that.

However, Tahir, pointed out to him, that as stated in the voucher, the purpose of payment was meant for tactical supply of communication equipment kits, as against the claim by Azibaola, that it was meant for special assignment to tackle the issue of insecurity in the Niger Delta.

Tahir, further asked Azibaola, if there was any competitive bidding for any contract by his company, or any tender given by One Plus Holding, which he replied that, as a company, it did not bid because it was a security assignment, which is not open for competitive bidding.

When asked what kind of contract One Plus Holdings had with ONSA, Azibaola said, We don't have a contract with ONSA, what we had was an assignment given to me by the former National Security Adviser.

Tahir, however, reiterated that every relationship boils down to a contract, as there was a prior engagement; there was a contractual relationship that led to the assignment, to which Azibaola replied in the affirmative.

When asked if the discussion was initiated by a memo, Azibaola answered in the affirmative, but noted that One Plus Holdings wrote to NSA but it was not a memo to initiate the agreement, but a memo to carry out the assignment.

Azibaola further told the court that there was no document to show the names of the beneficiaries who were militants, because it was a security document, and nobody displays the name of militants who have been asked to leave criminality for compensation.

The assignment was discreet in nature as it was meant to take care of people sabotaging the nation, and so the integrity of those people who benefitted should be kept secret, he said.

He further added that no particular amount was paid to a particular individual as payment was made based on negotiated settlement; each militant according to the equipment and capacity he was handling, and it ranged from N200,000 to as much as N10 million.

He denied diverting the money to his personal use. His trial continues on February 6, 2019.

Source: EFCC Nigeria