The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday at a Federal High Court in Abuja tailored its case to the allegation that the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party Chief Olisa Metuh, used the N400m he allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014, to fund the party’s presidential campaign for the 2015 general elections.
The anti-graft agency on Thursday called as its fifth prosecution witness – the Managing Director of CMC Connect, Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya – whose firm was engaged for media publicity and “image management” job for the PDP and its then presidential candidate in the 2015 general elections, former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Badejo-Okusanya told the presiding judge, Justice Okon Abang, that he was paid a total of N77.5m through Metuh’s firm, Destra Investments Limited in December 2014 and that he started executing the job towards the end of the month.
He said the payment which he got from Metuh’s firm preceded a meeting which he attended with former President Jonathan, the then Vice President, Namadi Sambo, the former Senate President, David Mark, and a number of other top government functionaries of the then PDP-led government, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The EFCC had on January 15 arraigned Metuh and his Destra Investments Limited on seven counts of fraudulent receipt of N400m from the NSA office in November 2014 and money laundering involving separate sum of $2m cash transaction.
In the counts one and two, the EFCC alleged that Metuh and Destra Investments Limited “took possession” of the sum of N400m from the account of the Office of the NSA with the Central Bank of Nigeria without contract award.
The prosecution also alleged in count four that between November 2014 and March 2015, Metuh and the firm used the said N400m for the campaign activities of the PDP and other purposes while “having reason to know that the money directly represented proceeds of an unlawful activity of Colonel Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (retd).”
It alleged that the N400m was “part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity” of the immediate past NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
The anti-graft commission also alleged in one of the counts that Metuh and Destra allegedly transferred the sum of N21.7m to a former member of the Board of Trustee of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih.
Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mr, Sylvanus Tahir, on Thursday, Badejo-Okusanya said after the meeting with Jonathan and some top government officials, sometimes in November 2014, Metuh called him the following day after the meeting, to inform him that the then President was impressed with his presentation.
The witness, who in the introductory part of his testimony, narrated how his relationship with the PDP started with a public relation job which he did for the party under the chairmanship of Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, added that Metuh also informed him that he (Metuh) had been given the mandate to coordinate the PDP media campaign.
The witness said, “My company, CMC Connect, had done some work for the PDP under the chairmanship of Dr. Nwodo, who was desirous of repositioning the PDP as a vehicle for national transformation. A substantial part of that work required communication which is what we deal in.
“The work which started in 2010 stopped abruptly ended when Dr. Nwodo resigned as chairman.
“We had some outstanding not paid then, so when Metuh became the spokesperson for the party we met him he said he liked the work we did then, but that, unfortunately, the party had no money to pay us so as to continue with the work. He promised that he would compensate us and that whenever opportunity arose he would call us. That should be in 2012.
“In November 2014, he called asking me where I was. He said I should come down to Abuja to attend a meeting and I obliged. On arrival at Abuja, I went to his house and he drove me to the Presidential Villa where we met a meeting in progress. The meeting was presided over by former President Goodluck Jonathan. Others who were at the meeting included the then Vice President, Namadi Sambo, the Chairman of the party, Muazu, the Senate President, David Mark, and presidential communication team, comprising Doyin Okupe, Reuben Abati, Prof,. Alkali, and others. The meeting was on how to go about the last election.
“In the course of the meeting, Metuh introduced me as a communication consultant and that I had worked for the party before. He then asked me to speak.
“I proceeded to speak what I considered very frankly, to Mr. President. Without going into the whole details, I said I felt that I should point out to him the critical things he had to do to get the election right.
“The President asked me a couple of questions and I specifically, remember telling him that there was a disconnect between his government and the people. He seemed to take everything in good faith and asked us (me and Chief Metuh) to go.
“The next evening, Chief Metuh called me. He said it seemed we have made an impression on the President and that he (Jonathan) had asked him to coordinate the initial campaign plan for presidential and general election for PDP.
“So we set about with the plan and I was meeting him (Metuh) severally on the ideas we had about how we can position the party in the minds of Nigerians.
“Throughout November 2014, we were unable to do anything meaningful because, according to Chief Metuh, the funds were unavailable to prosecute whatever ideas we had.
“I remember him telling me severally that contrary to what most people felt the party wasn’t awash with money and he shared with me some of the constraints he had in his work.”
He said his firm started the job later in December 2014 after receiving the payment of N77.5m in two tranches, with N7.5m transferred to CMC Connect’s account on December 1, 2014 and the balance of N70m later made on December 15, 2014.
The witness said, “Our first part of the work which we did was to get Nigerians to appreciate the roles of the military in the fight against Boko Haram, in general, insurgency.
“This was leading up to the Armed Forces Remembrance Day and we had insertions in newspapers like This Day, The Guardian, Punch, Vanguard, Daily Trust, Leadership and Sun.
“Thereafter, this was leading up to the Christmas season, so we had a campaign on TV stations wishing Nigerians Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We had it on Channels, AIT, Silverbird and NTA.
“We had placements on those stations. We did some of them directly and some we engaged the services of a media brokers. The reason for this was that at that time there was a lot of demand for airtime from various political parties. So, to get the prime time, we needed to go through the media muscle to secure the spots we wanted – the actual time.
“We did that during the Christmas and New Year season. We also wrote materials which we titled ‘FACTS Speak’. The essence of this was to draw attention to some of the achievements of the PDP as a party,
“My Lord, when we started, the former president (Jonathan) had just been confirmed as the party’s candidate through the party convention.
“So we did a centre-spread or what is called double-spread in three newspapers of the President thanking Nigerians and promising that he wouldn’t fail them.
“We also did a series of other materials which ran into January 2015.
“We had daily media trail to PDP, which was one of the services that will tell them whatever appeared in the media concerning the party.”
Bundles of the documents containing the evidence of publication of the various materials in the newspapers, and certificates of broadcast in the electronic media, invoices and cheque vouchers relating to the media jobs done, were admitted as exhibits.
Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), the witness confirmed that he was given the job due to his proficiency in “image positioning management” and his relationship with the PDP.
When asked to confirm that “when the first defendant (Metuh) called you telling you that the President was impressed, the first defendant acting for the President,” Okusanya Badejo responded by saying, “That was what he told me”.
He also gave a response to a question that there was nothing unusual about the job he did for the party.
Also on Thursday, a bureau de change operator, Kabiru Ibrahim, who testified as the sixth prosecution witness, narrated how he was engaged by an employee of a financial service firm, Arms and Resource Management Limited, Nneka Ararume, to change the sum of $1m, which the prosecution alleged was provided in cash by Metuh, to naira.
A bureau de change operator, Sie Iyenome, had earlier testified on Monday, about his role in converting the $1m balance of the $2m allegedly laundered by Metuh to naira.
Justice Abang has adjourned further trial till February 4.