The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has arraigned former Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Emeka Mba and three others on a 15-count charge of money laundering and procurement fraud to the tune of N2.8 billion.
Mba was arraigned before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, alongside former NBC director of finance, Patrick Areh; one Basil Udotai and one Babatunji Amure.
Spokesman of the EFCC, Wilson Uwajuren, in a statement made available to journalists said that “the accused persons were alleged to have at various times connived and transferred a sum of N2,899,723,500 from the account of NBC through various proxies for their personal gains.”
Mba was also accused of using his office to award contracts without following due procurement process.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Emeka Mba (while being the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission), Patrick Areh (while being the Director, Finance and Account of the National Broadcasting Commission), Basil Udotai (trading in the name and style of Technology Advisors) and Babatunji Amure (trading in the name and style of Divine Partners) on or about the 15th day of August, 2015 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit an illegal act to wit: laundering the sum of N2,899,723,500.00 (two billion, eight hundred and ninety nine million, seven hundred and twenty three thousand, five hundred Naira) and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011(as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act”.
The defendants pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.In view of their pleas, Counsel to the EFCC, Ben Ikani, expressed readiness to commence trial immediately, while counsel to the first defendant, S. I. Ahmed, moved a motion for bail of his client.Justice Kolawole then gave the parties an hour break to agree on the conditions for bail.
After the break, the parties agreed that the defendants should continue with the administrative bail earlier granted them by the EFCC.
However, the EFCC counsel pointed out that the conditions of the administrative bail had no monetary consequences attached to it, and as such, the sureties might not have anything to lose if the defendants jumped bail.
He urged the court to add a sum to protect the interest of the prosecution.Justice Kolawole, thereafter ruled that the defendants should continue on the earlier bail terms adding a sum of N50 million against each defendant.
Kolawole also ordered the defendants to produce one surety each, who must have landed property anywhere in Nigeria.
Their international passports which were earlier submitted to the EFCC should be transferred to the court.
The trial judge also ruled that the defendants have 14 days within which to meet their bail conditions or be remanded in prison custody.He subsequently adjourned the case to February 28 for commencement of trial.