Former accountant general and co-accused seek more time to repay stolen funds

Former accountant general and co-accused seek more time to repay stolen funds

A former Acting Accountant General of the Federation, Anamekwe Nwabuoku, on Wednesday pleaded with Justice James Omotoso of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to give him more time to conclude the refund of public funds allegedly looted by him and the co-accused in the suit.

Nwabuoku and his co-accused, Felix Nweke, are facing 11 counts of money laundering brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Nwabuoku and Nweke, a former deputy director in the Ministry of Defence, are being prosecuted for money laundering offences to the tune of N1.6 billion.

The accused were accused of committing the act while Nwabuoku was the Director of Finance and Accounts at the Ministry of Defence between 2019 and 2021.

While Nwabuoku is the first accused, Nweke is the second accused in the indictment numbered: FHC/ABJ/CR/240/24 dated May 20 and filed on May 27 by EFCC counsel, Ekele Iheanacho.

Nwabuoku was appointed acting AGoF on May 20, 2022, under former President Muhammadu Buhari after Ahmed Idris was suspended from his position as AGF over an alleged N80 billion fraud.

However, he was dismissed from his post in July 2022, a few weeks after taking office.

When the case was called on Wednesday, the defendants asked the court to stay their arraignment until another date to finalize the repayment.

The accused were put in the dock to plead their cases.

Nweke’s lawyer, Emeka Onyeaka, informed the court that there was a new development in the case.

He told the court his client had taken steps to resolve the matter.

The lawyer said Nweke had repaid a substantial portion of the money the anti-graft agency traced to him.

“The second defendant has taken action because there is a communication to the commission via-a-vs of the alleged infringements during a refund.

“The commission received the money and promised to communicate it to us,” he said.

Onyeaka said: “After receiving the charge on Monday, we communicated with the commission and were asked to be patient while they carried out their administrative process.”

He said that since a substantial amount had been repaid if his client was brought to trial, such action would have an impact on the trial.

He therefore asked the court to grant them an adjournment to take further steps in the administrative proceedings.

Maduakolam Igwe, who replaced Nwabuoku, aligned himself with Onyeaka’s submission.

Igwe said his client also took the same steps and a substantial amount was refunded.

“We have written to the commission about this. The first respondent has also made refunds.

“May I adopt the submission of my learning friend to bring order to the administrative procedure,” he corroborated.

In response, the lawyer representing the EFCC, Ogechi Ujam, acknowledged that although the commission had received a proposal letter, she said: “However, no negotiation was conducted, no settlement was reached and no agreement was reached by the parties.”

According to her, in these circumstances, we urge this honourable court to allow us to bring the accused to justice.

“Set a date for arraignment,” Judge Omotosho replied.

After the lawyers’ agreement, the case was adjourned until October 14 for arraignment.

The EFCC alleged that Nwabuoku, Nweke, Temeeo Synergy Concept Limited (general), Turge Global Investment Limited (general), Laptev Bridge Limited (general), Arafura Transnational Afro Limited (general) and others (general) converted funds derived from illegal activities for personal use.

The offence is contrary to section 18 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No. 1 of 2012) and punishable under section 15(2)(b) and (3) of the same Act.

In the second count, Nwabuoku, Felix, Temeeo Synergy Concept Limited (at large), between September 2019 and October 2020 at Abuja, indirectly converted the sum of N262,602,897.27 (Two Hundred and Sixty Two Million, Six Hundred and Two Thousand, Eight Hundred and Ninety Seven Naira Twenty Seven Kobo).

The money was allegedly deposited into the Zenith Bank account of Temeeo Synergy Concept Limited (generally), with account number: 1016901286, knowing that the funds were the proceeds of illegal activity.

The offence, the EFCC said, is contrary to Section 15(2)(b) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No. 1 of 2012), among other charges.