Story by Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) yesterday arraigned a former Executive Director, Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC), Mr Tuoyo Omatsuli, for allegedly collecting bribe to the tune of N3.6billion from a contractor.
Omatsuli was arraigned alongside Don Parker Properties Limited, Francis Momoh and Building Associates Limited before the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
The defendants were arraigned on 45 counts before Justice Saliu Saidu.
In one of the counts, Omatsuli was accused of conspiring with the others “to disguise the illegal origin of a total sum of N3,645,000,000, being proceeds of an unlawful activity, to wit: corruption and gratification.”
EFCC prosecution counsel, Mr Ekene Iheanacho, in the charge filed before the court, said the defendants committed the offence between August 2014 and September 2015 in Lagos.
He told the court that the defendants acted contrary to Section 18 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act No. 1 of 2012 and were liable to be punished under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.
However, when the charges were read to the defendants, they all pleaded not guilty.
Consequently, Justice Saidu adjourned till November 16, 2018 to take their bail applications.
The trial judge further ordered that the defendants should be remanded in the custody of the EFCC till the next adjourned date.
It would be recalled that the EFCC had in May this year obtained a forfeiture order on Omatsuli’s four landed properties valued at N846.03m.
The anti-graft agency had then informed Justice Chuka Obiozor who granted the forfeiture order that the properties were reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.
In an affidavit deposed to by one of its investigators, Adamu Yusuf, the EFCC claimed that Omatsuli received a bribe of N3,645,000,000 from a consultant to the NDDC, Starline Consultant.