By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
A former Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF) Steven Oronsaye on Thursday told a Federal High Court in Abuja that he ran into trouble with the EFCC when he appeared before a committee of the National Assembly and defended an Executive Bill on EFCC at a point when the EFCC itself objected to the Executive Bill.
He claimed that after his succesful defense of the Bill, he was invited by EFCC and that on December 7. 2013, he honoured the anti-graft agency’s invitation during which he was confronted with all manners of allegations.
He denied any involvement in the operations of 66 bank accounts said to have been operated to siphon pension funds.
Oronsaye who opened his defense in the money laundering charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, told the court that as a Head of Service of the Federation, he did not know anything about the alleged 66 accounts because they are not part of his functions.
He told Justice Inyang Ekwo that he needed not know the number of accounts operated by the Federal Government because he was not the Accountant-General of the Federation.
Led in defense by his lead counsel, Mr. Joe Agi SAN, the former Head of Service alleged that the investigation carried out by EFCC in a petition against him was poor and shoddy adding that if a thorough investigation had been conducted, charges against him would have been unnecessary.
The former Head of Service explained that as at the time of his defense, EFCC has never shown him a copy of the alleged petition against him, let alone availing him opportunity of going through the document
Oronsaye recalled that he had headed five special Presidential Committees and that throughout his tenure of office, he never signed any payment mandate or have any dealings with the Bureau of Public Procurement.
The former Head of Service who punctured charges against him one after the other, said contrary to EFCC’s allegations against him, only staff of the Accountant-General of the Federation have powers to sign payment mandate.
He denied ever transferring any money from Union bank to Unity bank as alleged by EFCC.
On the alleged abuse of the treshold of contracts sum, Oronsaye explained that there was a Presidential approval adding that EFCC investigation into the issue was not thorough adding that if a proper investigation had been conducted, it would have revealed a presidential approval.
During his defense, several documents including circular on threshold of contract sums signed by Ahmed Yayale, EFCC’s interim investigation report on alleged conspiracy, and diversion of public funds, the proceedings and judgment of Justice Okon Abang in the case of jailed former Pension Task Force chairman, Abdulrasheed Maina, were tendered by him and admitted as exhibits.
Meanwhile Justice Ekwo has fixed May 24, 25 and 26 for continuation of defense and for EFCC to cross examine the witness.