Ex-AG-F must face trial over alleged N26b fraud despite refunding N6.4b, Appeal Court rules

The Court of Appeal sitting, in Abuja, has set aside the July 16, 2021 judgment barring the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from initiating either civil or criminal proceedings against former Account General of the Federation (AG-F), Jonah Oguniyi Otunla, The Nation reports.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja had, in the July 16, 2021 judgment upheld Otunla’s claim of an existing verbal agreement between him and the then acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu that he would not be prosecuted if he make refund to the Federal Government.

Justice Ekwo, in the 2021 judgment on the suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2321/2021 filed by Otunla, held among others, that, in view of the assurance given to him by Magu, which informed his refund of the money, he could no longer be prosecuted for his actions while in office between 2011 and 2015.

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Otunla had, in an affidavit, claimed that Magu promised him that he would not be prosecuted should he return funds traced to him, companies linked to him and his associates.

He stated that sometime in 2015, he was invited by a team of EFCC’s investigators, probing alleged diversion of funds from the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) pension funds.

Otunla said he later met with Magu, in the course of the investigation, when the then acting EFCC Chair told him in person to “refund the monies linked to your companies and nobody will prosecute you.”

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He said based on Magu’s promise he had a reconciliatory meeting with the team of investigators, where he immediately undertook to make available some funds as refunds.

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In line with the agreement, Otunla said one of the companies linked to him – Stellar Vera Development Ltd – refunded N750m; another company – Damaris Mode Coolture Ltd – refunded N550 million, while the two firms later made additional joint refund of N2,150,000,000.00.

He added that, at a point, he raised several managers cheques for N10m in favour of the EFCC, which he handed to its Economic Governance Section.

Otunla said, in all, he made a refund of N6,392,000,000.00 to the Federation Account through the EFCC.

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