A former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Gooluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Dr. Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, on Monday, informed a Federal High Court in Lagos that the N1.6 billion traced to him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was proceeds of donations towards a church building project.
Dudafa made this known during his examination-in-chief by his lawyer, Mr Gboyega Oyewole (SAN) after opening his defence to the alleged fraud charge.
The former Special Assistant said the money was part of the N6 billion realised from the launching towards the building of St. Stephen’s Youth Development Centre, Otuoke, by the Anglican Communion of Otuoke community.
He said: “From my interactions with former President Goodluck Jonathan, I know that the funds were proceeds of a launching that was conducted by the Anglican Communion of Otuoke community for the building of St. Stephens Youth Development Centre, Otuoke.
The launching which was done in Lagos on the 16th of March, 2013, was organised by the former president as a member of the Anglican Communion and the Grand Patron.
“About N6 billion was realised from the event. Several persons made various donations in cash and in pledges at the event while the Chief Launcher, Prince Arthur Eze, donated $10 million (about N1.8 billion).
The donation by the Chief Launcher was a pledge which he promised to fulfill in piece-meal”.
Dudafa added that his boss, Jonathan, later gave him the task of following up on the promise made by Prince Eze.
“When Prince Eze started redeeming his pledge in piece-meal, the former president directed that I should get somebody in the private sector that will be able to keep the fund.
“I then brought in a friend, Somprie Omiebi, who later opened an account with a bank in Bayelsa. The naira denominated account was opened to receive Prince Eze’s money.
“Anytime Prince Eze brought any money, the former president will direct that I link up with a Bureau De Change (BDC) operator who will remit the money directly to the account opened by Somprie Omiebi.
Dudafa denied having anything to do with the companies listed in the charge or even knowing the companies.
“I am not a signatory to their accounts. I am also not a Director. I know Somprie Omiebi as someone in the private sector that brought those accounts and the companies to the former president and his wife for the safekeeping of their money. Omiebi is the only person that knows the details of the various accounts”, he said.
The former president’s aide had earlier told the court how he was arrested at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) on the 17th April, 2016, while he was accompanying his son to the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, further hearing in the matter continues tomorrow.
Dudafa and his co-accused, Iwejuo Joseph Nna, were on June 11, 2016, arraigned before the court by the EFCC on a 23-count charge of conspiracy to conceal proceeds of crime amounting to N1.6 billion.
In the charge, the anti-graft agency alleged that the two accused persons, between June 2013 and June 2015, used different companies to fraudulently laundered the said money.