Azibaola Robert, a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan has said that the $40 million given to his company, Oneplus in 2013, was not a contract but for an assignment.
He said the assignment was for him to use his expertise and knowledge of the Niger Delta to halt oil flow disruption by militants. In doing the job, he said he shared money to “people in the creeks, those doing the illegal bunkering, militants in the creeks and we have record of the disbursement.”
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Azibaola for allegedly receiving undeserved payment from former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki) and laundering the money.
But appearing in court on the second day of the resumption of his defence in the matter, Robert clarified that the money for which he is being prosecuted was approved by then President Jonathan and given to him to do an assignment for the good of the country.
Robert, who doubles as a lawyer and environmental activist said that he risked his life and traversed the vast Niger Delta creeks and interacted with the militants who were bombing oil facilities and disrupting oil flow in the area.
He explained his efforts saw an increase production in the oil sector from less than 700,000 barrels per day to over 2.2 million barrels per day, adding that the development also significantly increased oil revenue to the country.
“The $40 million given to me by the government was used to execute a civil response to the illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism, crude theft, etc in the Niger Delta.
“The Oneplus Reserve Account was opened for the purpose of the assignment. For the purpose of accountability, we opened separate accounts for each project as foreign missions do. That’s why Kakatar has about 40 different accounts for various purposes such as salaries, taxes, projects, etc.
“It was in the course of executing this assignment that we incurred all the expenses we incurred and we have documents to back all of these,” he told the court.
Court had earlier sacked seven of the nine charges the EFCC leveled against Robert and his firm on the grounds that they lacked merit. They were therefore asked to enter defence in the remaining two charges.
On his second day testimony, Robert had the judge, prosecution and others at the court room listened with rapt attention as he explained the $40 million critical assignment given him and his firm by the Jonathan government.
He said, “In September 2013, oil bunkering, pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft took over 10 minutes of the Presidential media chat. As a result of the concerns by the federal government, Col. Sambo Dasuki soon replaced the late Gen. Azazi as the National Security Adviser. When Dasuki saw Azazi’s brief on the situation in the Niger Delta and oil production statistics, he invited me to discuss the issues of oil spill, pipelines vandalism, etc. Clearly, then, there was need for a civil response to oil bunkering in the Niger Delta.
Then Dasuki got $1bn from the NNPC with the President’s approval. To the best of my knowledge two contracts were awarded to two different Israeli companies. They were to build a command and control in Abuja and they are doing it now.
“Next, the NSA asked me to write him a letter of undertaking that I will do what he had asked me to do. It was an assignment, not a contract. We did the assignment diligently and saved the country billions of Naira.
“We gave money to people in the creeks, those doing the illegal bunkering, militants in the creeks and we have record of the disbursement
“In 2016 the EFCC, without any invitation, invaded my home. I got the information and voluntarily went to their office to report myself. But they turned me back and asked me to return the next day and I did. They searched my house and office thrice and took away vital documents relating to the $40 million assignment.
“The EFCC took my statement, interacted with me and my wife only on three nights and never interacted with me again for the three months I spent in their custody. Robert said he was known as an honest and reliable activist and businessman, who had at various times returned excess or unearned money paid by clients by mistakes to him and his company to the owners, and that he had clean record to show for all his transactions with local and foreign business clients.”
After Robert’s account, the presiding judge, Justice Dimgba, adjourned the case to the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th of December 2018 for possible conclusion and cross examination by the prosecution.