FRN vs. Usoro: I Lied Against the Defendant, Zenith Bank Opened Account and Made Deposit Without His Consent – EFCC’s Witness Tells Court

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EFCC witness Mrs. Idongetsit Udom a staff of Zenith Bank has told Honourable Justice Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos how her bank opened an account in favour of Paul Usoro & Co and made deposit of N300 Million, more than 2 hours before the instruction to open the account came from the Defendant.

Mrs. Udom made the above revelation today at the ongoing trial of the immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Paul Usoro over alleged money laundering charges brought against him by the EFCC.

Mr. Usoro SAN’s trial is on the allegation that his firm Paul Usoro & Co received professional fees which they ought to have known “forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act” from Akwa Ibom State Government and Governor Udom Emmanuel.

At the resumed hearing, Mrs. Udom who is PW1 confirmed to the court that she lied against the Defendant when she wrote the name of the Defendant as the depositor of the sum of N300m in the account while the Defendant was unaware that the account had been opened.

The lead Counsel for the Defendant, Chief Offiong Offiong SAN while cross examining PW1 asked the following questions:

Q: Exhibit 3 shows that by 4:19pm on 14th March, 2016 an account was opened in the name of the Defendant in Zenith Bank?

A:        Yes, my lord

Q:        The documentation shows that Cash and Tellers official confirmed receipt of N300m cash, in N1,000 denomination of 600 bundles.

A:        Yes, my lord

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Q:        Exhibit 4 shows that the email from the Defendant was received at 6:30pm on the 14th March, 2016

A:        Yes, my lord

Q:It is that email from the Defendant that represented the first documentary evidence between you and the Defendant?

A:        Yes, my lord

Q:        That email was the one that said “deal with my staff to process account opening”

A:        Yes, my lord

Q:        That means that while the Defendant was thinking about opening an account with your bank, you had opened an account in the Defendant’s name, 2 hours earlier and deposited money into the account?

A:        Yes, my lord

Q:        Did you communicatee this to the Defendant?

A:        No, my lord.

Q:        Who responded to the email?

A:        My Supervisor, Asuquo Itah

Q:        When did he respond?

A:        Response came at 6:57pm

Q:        So, you were only trying to get the Defendant to formalize what you had done?

A:        Yes, my lord

Q:        In your examination in Chief you told this court that as at 14th of March, 2016, the Defendant was not a customer of Zenith Bank?

A:        Yes, my lord.

Q:        On 14th March, 2016, you completed exhibit 3.  Who did you write on the column as the depositor of the money?

A:        Paul Usoro & Co

Q:        A depositor is the person who brings the money to the bank right?

A:        Yes, my lord

Q:        So Paul Usoro & Co was not the depositor?

A:        Yes. The money was not brought into the bank by Paul Usoro

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Q:        You lied against Paul Usoro & Co on that document

A:        Yes, my lord.

Q:        It was you who deposited the money not the Defendant?

A:        Yes, my lord

Q:        And only you knew where the money came from at the time you deposited it?

A:        Yes, my lord

The witness had earlier told the court that all the document presented by the bank were true. She also informed the court that the bank closes transaction with customers at 4pm.

Recall that Mrs. Idongesit Udom, at the last hearing informed the court that there is no evidence to show that she made a call to the Defendant as she does not have a call log of on her phone. She also told the court that the EFCC never checked her phone to ascertain whether she placed a call to the Defendant or not but insisted that she called the Defendant in respect of the account opening.

On the payment of the sum of N300m into the Defendant’s account, PW1 had confirmed that it is Zenith Bank’s mandatory procedure for every account to have an alert by email. She however informed the court that there was no email from her, nor the bank to the Defendant on the payment of N300m into the Defendant’s account. (Read here)

Cross examination of PW1 was concluded today.

Chief Offiong Offiong led about eight lawyers including two SANs for the Defendant while Mr. Buhari appeared for the EFCC.

Case was adjourned to Thursday, 12th November, 2020 at 10am for continuation of trial.  The 2nd Prosecution witness PW2, Abdul-Rahman Arabu an operative of the EFCC will continue with his evidence in chief.

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