Justice F. Giwa Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja has adjourned the fraud trial of Emmanuella Eteta Ita, Head of Stakeholders Unit of the Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS till January 31, 2022 and February, 2022 for a trial-within-trial.
This is to determine the voluntariness of the first defendant’s statement to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Eteta Ita is being prosecuted alongside Surestart School Ltd for allegedly conspiring with the former Coordinating Director of the FIRS, Peter Hena, to siphon money from the FIRS through Duty Tour Allowances, DTA, to the tune of over N2bn.
At the resumed trial on November 24, 2021, Ijeoma Matilda, an operative of the EFCC, while being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, disclosed that in the course of investigating the defendants, the team wrote letters to banks and other platforms through which payments were made into their accounts, including SystemSpecs, ( owners of the remita payment platform) and responses were received..
According to her, they discovered an unaccounted outstanding balance of N158,720,352 during reconciliation of the first defendant’s account.
She also said that N145. 8m represents the total amount transferred from the first defendant`s salary account into the second defendant`s account.
She stated that the first defendant in her statement, claimed she had resigned as director of Surestart School Ltd, but documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, indicated that she is the owner of the institution.
The prosecuting counsel, Iheanacho sought to tender the defendant’s statement but was opposed by the defence counsel, who argued that the statement was not voluntarily obtained.
The witness further disclosed that in the attempt to verify the authenticity of the document presented by the first defendant for reimbursement by FIRS, “we went to the addresses on them and discovered that the location on some of them do not exist; we also went ahead to dispatch letters but it was still confirmed that those companies and addresses do not exist. The ones that exist, denied that the documents emanated from them.”
Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo adjourned the matter till January 31, 2022 and February 2, 2022.