NBA pres­i­dent told us A’ibom govt gave him N1.4bn –EFCC

The Punch - - NEWS - Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion says the Pres­i­dent of the Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), told de­tec­tives dur­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tion that the N1.4bn which was paid into his ac­count by the Akwa Ibom State Gov­ern­ment was for the tri­bunal case which Gover­nor Udom Em­manuel won.

The EFCC said this in a state­ment by its act­ing spokesman, Mr Tony Orilade, while re­act­ing to a speech de­liv­ered by Usoro at the NBA’S Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee, which held on Thurs­day.

Usoro, who is to be ar­raigned by the EFCC, was said to have re­ceived ques­tion­able funds from the Akwa Ibom State Gov­ern­ment.

The EFCC said, “In­deed, the EFCC had in­vited Usoro in June this year, to ex­plain his role re­gard­ing the in­flow of N300m from the Akwa Ibom State Gov­ern­ment’s ac­count into the ac­count of Paul Usoro Cham­bers.

“Usoro was also ques­tioned on the ag­gre­gate in­flow of N1.1bn from the state gov­ern­ment’s ac­count into the bank ac­count of his com­pany.

“Un­der in­ter­ro­ga­tion, Usoro had claimed that the var­i­ous sums of money re­ceived from the Akwa Ibom State Gov­ern­ment, un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Gover­nor Udom Em­manuel, were pay­ments for le­gal fees to him and other em­i­nent mem­bers of the in­ner bar and a host of other mem­bers of the outer bar that I had en­gaged to work with me in re­spect of the elec­tion pe­ti­tion mat­ter in­volv­ing the gover­nor.”

The com­mis­sion said Usoro fur­ther stated that the pay­ments were in­de­pen­dent trans­ac­tions and that the Akwa Ibom State Gov­ern­ment’s pay­mentson-ac­count were in “re­spect of my firm’s pro­fes­sional ser­vices to the state, while the pay­ments to the se­nior coun­sel were made by me for and on be­half of Gover­nor Udom Em­manuel, at his re­quest.”

The anti-graft agency said rather than ex­plain why he re­ceived such huge sums of money, Usoro raised the is­sue of “client-lawyer priv­i­lege,” ar­gu­ing that “ju­di­cially and his­tor­i­cally”, the “is­sues of fees, as be­tween a lawyer and his client, is a mat­ter of priv­i­lege.”

The com­mis­sion said con­trary to Usoro’s claim that it was play­ing the role of au­di­tor and reg­u­la­tor of le­gal fees, the EFCC had spe­cial pow­ers to in­ves­ti­gate sus­pi­cious fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions by virtue of Sec­tion 18 (d) of the EFCC Es­tab­lish­ment Act 2004. “From all in­tent and pur­poses, pay­ment of over N1.4bn to Usoro from the ac­counts of Akwa Ibom State Gov­ern­ment for un­of­fi­cial trans­ac­tions, is noth­ing short of crim­i­nal di­ver­sion of pub­lic funds,” it said.

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