N359m Fraud: Etukudoh challenges forfeiture of properties

Posted by News Express | 1 June 2018 | 1,512 times

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Justice D.D. Longi of the Plateau State High Court, Jos on Thursday adjourned hearing on an application by the Provost of Federal School of Medical Laboratory Technology (FSMLT), Dr Nkereuwem Sunday Etukudoh, seeking the discharge of an interim forfeiture order directing him to surrender to the Federal Government properties allegedly purchased with stolen FSMLT funds.

Properties forfeited are: A duplex situated at No 1 Senator John Mbatu Crescent (Plot 240) Andi Kan Beulah Estate, Phase 2, Kafe, Abuja, four flats situated at No 2 Edem Urua Road, Off Nudo Udoma Avenue, Itam Ikot Ebia Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, a parcel of land measuring 4,183.560 square meters situated at Ediene Ikot Obio Imo, Abak Road, Uyo, and another parcel of land measuring 2,657.686 square meters at Defarmco Street, Eniong Offot, Uyo Akwa Ibom State.

The application for vacation of the forfeiture order was brought before the court by Etukudoh’s counsel, Solomon Umoh, SAN, who further brought to the attention of the court a pending motion on notice filed by the defence on April 5, 2018 directing the prosecution to make available outstanding documents in their custody including tenders board file, store ledgers, payment certificates and vouchers, evaluation reports retrieved from the FSMLT, as well as, Etukudoh’s international passports.

Presenting the prosecution’s counter claims in affidavits dated May 30, 2018, prosecution counsel, Samuel Okeleke, noted that most of the documents requested for were not in the Commission’s custody.

Okeleke maintained that the current retention of the first defendant’s passport was necessary to prove some counts in the charge, explaining that documents retrieved during investigations had been returned to the school over a year ago, except for three store ledgers which the school was yet to delegate an officer to receive.

The embattled FSMLT Provost was first arraigned in May 2016 alongside Yusuf Samuel, Accountant, FSMLT; Ernest Demtoe, Secretary of Tenders Board, FSMLT; Goodluck Echewa, a contractor of FSMLT and a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Esio Udoh, also a contractor of FSMLT, before Justice Y.G. Dakwak on a 15-count charge of conspiracy, diversion for funds and official corruption preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The matter was adjourned on April 12, 2018 to today for the continued cross-examination of the prosecution’s first witness, Ethel Ekam.

Ekam, a former staff of the FSMLT, during cross-examination noted that she was not in a position to know “how things were sold, bought and how the school was running”.

“Since I was not part of the tenders’ board of the school and I was not participating in the management, I was not in a position to know these things.”

Ekam maintained that she had never travelled to Ethiopia or the United Kingdom for any professional training. “I do not know if I was nominated because I never saw the nominations,” she said.

She added: “The first time I saw the petition against the Provost was in the EFCC office. After reading through it, I adopted it as the true situation of things in the school at that time. I had complained that we never had enough reagents to work with.”

Umoh, SAN, was unable to pose questions to her regarding the contents of the petition, as he did not have a copy to tender to the court.

Earlier in proceedings, prosecution counsel, Samuel Okeleke, in an application dated February 27, 2018, sought leave of the court to file additional witnesses, who had been earlier subpoenaed to tender evidence before the court.

The application was countered by Umoh, SAN, who argued that the prosecution should be restrained from springing surprises on the defence. According to him, “Investigation has already been concluded. The prosecution cannot be bringing new witnesses at this point without laying proper foundation.”

Responding, counsel to the prosecution, Okeleke drew to the attention of the court to paragraph 4a-h of the affidavit in support of his application, noting that, “copies of the documents which the witnesses were subpoenaed to bring are already in proof of evidence which had been served on the defence since 2015”. He, therefore, urged the court to discountenance the defence’s submission.

Justice Longi adjourned hearing on all applications filed to a later date and adjourned the matter to June 1, 2018for the continued cross-examination of the PW1.

•Dr Nkereuwem Sunday Etukudoh, Provost of Federal School of Medical Laboratory Technology, FSMLT

Source: News Express

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