A defence witness, Adonye Roberts, on Friday told an FCT High Court, Gudu, that he helped former Plateau governor, Joshua Dariye, transfer foreign currencies to the UK. Roberts of defunct All States Trust Bank and Dariye’s account officer, said this during cross-examination by the EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN). He said that he was aware that the UK sought explanations from the bank on these transfers, noting that he helped the defendant to source for dollars. Dariye is facing a 33-count charge of money laundering and diversion of N1.162 billion state funds, which he pleaded not guilty. Roberts said that the ex-governor opened a corporate account called “Ebenezer Retnan Ventures’’, which is classified under private banking. “We used it for high network customers like persons of industry, governors, and permanent secretaries etc., who may not have time to appear in the banking hall.’’
He also agreed with the prosecution that high profile people attempt to hide their personalities behind such account. The witness also admitted that Dariye gave instructions on how the N1.162 billion ecological fund released by the Federal Government should be disbursed. He said that the defendant instructed that N172.86 million should be paid into his company, Ebenezer Retnan Ventures account, while Pinnacle communications got N250 million. The witness said that all this was in July 19, 2001, adding that the money was cleared in sundry account instead of Plateau state account. Robert admitted that it was wrong to clear a cheque for Plateau ecological needs from the Central Bank in a sundry account.
The witness also said that All States Trust bank did not forfeit its licence because of its link with Ebenezer Retnan Ventures but on the grounds of share capital. Roberts also admitted that Dariye did not comply with the rules and regulations governing the bank documents that he signed. He said he was introduced to Dariye by the bank’s Deputy General Manager, Mr Odesa Awe, who was convicted along with two other staff in connections with the account opening. Although Robert was quizzed by the EFCC in 2004, he was discharged because he was not involved in the opening of the account. The judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko, adjourned the hearing till June 27.