Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos has adjourned further hearing in the trial of the immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Mr. Paul Usoro SAN to Thursday, 3rd and Friday 4th, December, 2020.
The Court Adjourned for continuation of cross examination of the PW2 Mr. Abdul-Rahama Arabu, an operative of the EFCC.
Mr. Arabu had concluded his evidence in Chief which was commenced on the 11th of December, 2020 after the cross examination of the PW1 (Read here) The summary of the PW2’s evidence in chief are as follows:
- The charges preferred against the Defendant, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN emanated from the investigation of an intelligent report from the NFIU on a transaction involving Dr. Ikpeazu Onyeche SAN wherein he allegedly received an inflow of the sum of N500million into his Fidelity Bank Account without economic justification. He said that upon further investigation, it was revealed that Dr. Ikpeazu’s account received the sum of N240million from Paul Usoro & Co, the Defendant’s law firm.
- Further investigation into the account of the Defendant’s firm revealed that the account received funds to the tune of N1.110Billion over a period of time and in tranches from the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Justice. He further testified that as the money were being received, payments were being made to some law firms, including; “OEB Offiong & Co, Damian Dodo & Co and Ikpeazu Onyechi & Co and a host of others”.
- That the Defendant could not provide any evidence tying the payment he received from Akwa Ibom State Government to a particular service.
- That the sum of N300m paid into the Defendant’s firm account were part of the 700m withdrawn from the Akwa Ibom State Accountant General’s Impress Account in cash and based on the discussion between the Defendant and the PW1, Idongesit Udom, the N300m was set aside for 4 days in the form of safe keep pending when the account opening process for the Defendant’s firm in Zenith Bank was concluded.
- He also told the court that the Defendant knew that the money paid to his firm were from the Akwa Ibom State Coffers and they were used to pay for the prosecution of Gov. Udom Emmanuel’s personal election petition.
- That after the Defendant’s firm received the money from Akwa Ibom State Accountant General, he paid the Attorney General Uwemedimo Nwoko the sum of N65m which the commission believes was a kickback.
- He informed the court that the AG failed to report and that is why he is at large.
On cross examination, PW1 told the court that there was no report from Akwa Ibom State that their money was being mismanaged.
He also told the court that there was no charges against the Defendant on bribery and payment of kickback in the surviving charges presently before the court.
He confirmed that a witness box is not a place to make scandalous allegation against a Defendant but did not respond to the question put to him as to whether he knew his allegation of kickback was scandalous to the Defendant.
The suit was adjourned for continuation of cross examination of the PW2.
It would be recalled that Mr. Usoro SAN is being tried for allegedly receiving monies which according to the EFCC he ought to have known “forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act”.
Mr. Usoro SAN has maintained that he presented enough evidence to show the EFCC that the sums he received were professional fees validly earned for prosecuting cases for Gov. Udom and Akwa Ibom State Government.
For onlookers, especially, lawyers, it is important that this particular case is determined on its merit to afford lawyers a clearer view of steps to take in receiving professional fees.