Justice Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja Special Offences Court was, on Wednesday, told how two former chairmen of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)c Ikeja branch allegedly connived to steal N42 million belonging to the association.
The Economic and Financial Ctimes Commission (EFCC) had dragged the former NBA leaders, Adesina Ogunlana, Yinka Farounbi and also a former Financial Secretary of the association, Mrs. Aderinola Kappo, before the court for allegedly stealing the said amount in several tranches.
The defendants are facing a 30-count charge brought against them by the anti-graft agency.
At Wednesday’s proceedings, the EFCC called its first witness, Daniel Okoye, who described himself as a financial member of the NBA, Ikeja branch.
Okoye described himself as a legal practitioner, who was called to bar in 1989, saying he and some other colleagues became suspicious of activities in the branch and decided to investigate the matter.
“During the administration of the 1st defendant, I realized that the branch was still collecting cash from members, contrary to the bye laws of the association.”
“I realised that something was wrong with the administration of funds in the branch. We, thereafter, carried out discreet investigations into the affairs of the branch and what we found out was mind-boggling.”
“We discovered that the WEMA Bank account of the association was still being operated by the second defendant even after his tenure.”
“We also discovered that cheques of over N30 million were signed by the 2nd and 3rd defendant in favour of the 1st defendant which he personally paid into his own account.”
“The 1st defendant (Ogunlana) was living large, spending the association’s funds like his personal funds.”
“At this stage, we decided to write a petition to the then National President of NBA, A.B Mahmoud, and the General Secretary, Isiaka Olagunju.”
“Sadly we did not get a response from them, not even an acknowledgement. It was at this stage we decided to petition the EFCC,”Okoye said.”
During cross examination by the first defendant’s counsel, Gbenga Ojo, the witness recalled that though he joined the branch in 1996, he has never been an executive of the association.
“I have always been a financial member. I can’t recollect how many chairmen the association has had so far. I cannot recall if there is any faction in the association,” Okoye said”
Justice Dada, thereafter, adjourned the matter till July 9 and 10 for continuation of trial.
The trio had pleaded not guilty to the 30-count charge and were each granted bail on N500,000 with two sureties in like sum when they were arraigned by the EFCC.