Friday, 29 January 2016

Olisa Metuh Spent A Good Chunk of the N400m He Received on Jonathan’s media campaign, Witness Says

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.

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 a 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 money he got from Metuh’s firm preceded a meeting which he had with Jonathan, the then Vice President, Namadi Sambo, 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, 2016 arraigned Metuh and his company on seven counts of fraudulent receipt of N400m from the Office of the NSA in November 2014 and money laundering involving a separate sum of $2m cash transaction.

The EFCC 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 his company allegedly transferred the sum of N21.7m to a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees 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 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 relations job which he did for the party under the chairmanship of Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo in 2013, 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.

“In November 2014, he (Metuh) 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 Jonathan. Others who were at the meeting included the then Vice President, Namadi Sambo, the Chairman of the party, Adamu Mu’azu, the Senate President, David Mark, and presidential communications team, comprising Doyin Okupe, Reuben Abati, Prof. Rufai 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 communications consultant and told them that I had worked for the party before. He then asked me to speak.

“I proceeded to speak 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 had impressed the President and that he (Jonathan) had asked him to coordinate the initial campaign plan for the presidential election for the PDP.”

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, “The first part of the work which we did was to get Nigerians to appreciate the role 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. 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 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.”

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.

The witness also said 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.

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