A Federal High Court, Abuja, was on Wednesday told that contracts allegedly awarded to fictitious companies by the House of Representatives under the leadership of former Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, were approved by a committee chaired by Bankole.
The court was also told that part of the contract sum was paid into an account in the Kaduna branch of Zenith Bank, operated by Multigate Resources Services Limited, a company whose address could not be traced by investigators.
The revelations emerged when the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Mohammed Omololu, and an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Ahmed, testified at the continuation of Bankole’s trial over an alleged contract fraud before Justice Elvis Chukwu.
The fourth prosecution witness, Omololu, told the court that the controversial contracts, over which Bankole is facing trial, were approved by the Body of Principal Officers of the House of Representatives, which was headed by Bankole.
Omololu said other members of the body included the Deputy Speaker, House Leader, Deputy House Leader, Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip, Minority Leader, Minority Whip, Deputy Minority Whip and Deputy Minority Leader.
Led in evidence by prosecution lawyer, Festus Keyamo, the clerk noted that Bankole was the Speaker of the House of Representatives when the contracts were awarded.
He said, “In this particular case, it was a contract that can only be taken by the Body of Principal Officers of the House of Representatives.
“For the purpose of approval of contracts, the Body of Principal Officers of the House of Representatives under the chairmanship of the Speaker makes the approval.”
Earlier, the third prosecution witness, Ahmed, had told the court that the House under Bankole’s leadership, awarded contracts to some companies with unverifiable addresses.
He said investigation revealed further that money for the contracts were paid into a Kaduna Zenith Bank account of Multigate Limited, one of the companies that were awarded contracts.
Ahmed added that investigators were not able to trace the company’s address.
He further explained that, when the addresses of the concerned companies could not be verified, EFCC officers called at the National Assembly to find out how the contractors were paid and it was discovered that they were paid through cheques.
He said, “We wrote to the banks and requested for the statements of the accounts.
“We analysed them and discovered that the cheque were cleared with one account called Multigate Resources Limited with Zenith Bank, domiciled in Kaduna.
“We also collected the account opening packages and we doscovered that it had the same address with the company we could not locate.
“We discovered some telephone numbers on the contracts quotation letters submitted by the companies.
“We called the numbers, but no one answered.”
Ahmed added that efforts made by the investigating team to unmask those behind the companies and accounts proved futile.