Trial of Mr. Paul Usoro SAN, immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association continued today with the court admitting in evidence, the statement of account of Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko, the Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State. The statement of account confirms that the sum of N65m transferred to his account by the Defendant’s law firm was paid to lawyers whom he engaged on behalf of the Defendant for the prosecution of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly election tribunal.
Recall that at the last adjourned date, the lead defence counsel, Chief Offiong Offiong SAN had requested that EFCC’s witness produce the said statement of account which he informed the court would show that the payment to the AG was not “kick back” as alleged by the EFCC.
The statement which was tendered through the PW2 revealed that payment from the Defendant‘s firm was made on the 27th of August 2016 while transfer to three lawyers identified by the Defendant in his statement as part of the team retained for him by the Attorney General were all paid the next day. PW2 however informed the Honourable Court that regardless of the confirmation, the EFCC still had reservation as the three lawyers had their individual accounts which the Defendant could have credited directly without going through the Attorney General.
When asked why the EFCC did not call in the three lawyers who received the money for questioning, PW2 responded that “the natural thing is to call the person that received the money – the Attorney General”. He also informed the court that the AG was repeatedly invited by the Commission but he failed to attend.
Disproving the above claim by PW2, the defence counsel confronted the witness with the two letters of invitation addressed to the Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government requesting the attendance of some staff to the commission which did not include the name of the Attorney General.
On the repeated claim by the PW2 that the Attorney General was at large, the Defence counsel informed the court that despite the fact that the AG was not officially invited by the EFCC, he was at the commission to give an undertaken in respect of the staff of the state government but was not questioned on the following issues which the EFCC had identified prior to his attendance:
1) The claim that N1.1bn explained by the defendant to be payment on account for 16 cases where paid by the Ministry of Justice;
2) That N65m was paid to the AG and the explanation by the Defendant was not satisfactory.
3) A copy of the AG’s statement of account showing inflows and outflows was in the custody of the commission,
4) Defendant had explained that money transferred to AG was payment to local counsel and mentioned some names.
PW2 in response informed the court that as at the time the AG attended EFCC office, the need had not arisen to ask the him the questions.
The case has been further adjourned to the 20th and 21st of January, 2020 for continuation of the cross examination of the PW2.