My campaign expenses N30m, not N2bn suggested – Pat Utomi

A former presidential candidate and renowned political economist, Professor Pat Utomi, yesterday, told a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja that his presidential election campaign between 2006 and 2007, was not funded by loans from Bank PHB.
Utomi, who is a former Vice Chairman of Bank PHB Corporate Governance Committee, told Justice Lateefat Okunnu of an Ikeja High Court that the total sum of his campaign expenditure was N30 million against the N2 billion being suggested by the prosecution.
The EFCC counsel, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, had suggested that Utomi’s campaign was funded by the bank while cross-examining Utomi on the testimony he had earlier given at the on-going trial of the former Managing Director of the bank, Francis Atuche, his wife, Elizabeth and the bank’s former Chief Operating Officer, Ugo Anyanwu over alleged theft of the bank’s N27.5 billion.
The prosecution had alleged that the bank had advanced a N2 billion credit facility to Baywood Continental Limited, a company whose board was chaired by Utomi.
The EFCC’s counsel also alleged that the loan was secured from Bank PHB within the same time Utomi was going around the country soliciting votes from Nigerians for his presidential ambition.
The professor denied the allegation, saying that Baywood Continental never collected any loan from the bank.
He explained that the company was actually indebted to Spring Bank Plc long before he became the chairman of the company and the eventual acquisition of Spring Bank by Bank PHB.
According to Utomi, it was public knowledge that he never exceeded the sum of N30 million during his presidential campaign and would therefore amount to a misconception that the indebtedness of Baywood to Spring bank Plc before its acquisition could be linked to his presidential campaign.
Asked whether the N17 billion cheque kitting fraud that rocked the bank, which was one of the biggest Nigerian banks during Atuche’s era of which late President Umaru Musa Yar”Adua invited him and Atuche was of no consequence to the Nigeria economy, he said the interest expressed by the late president on the issue was on personal basis as there was an appropriate authority that should handle it.
“I believe that the president should had followed due process because it was not appropriate for him to resolve it with the Bank MD, if he did not had a personal interest.”
The renowned economist also reiterated his earlier testimony that Bank PHB was violently stolen from the owners , by the powers that be.
He also said bank loans can be domiciled in neighbour banks pending when they can be expended on the purpose of the credit facility.
Utomi, who was the vice chairman of Bank PHB’s board of directors had earlier said the loans advanced during Atuche’s era, which formed part of the charges against him were ratified by the board after proper scrutiny.
Reading from the minutes of the Board of Directors meeting of Bank PHB held on July 9,2008, Utomi said the loans were ratified during the meeting by the members.
According to him, the Bank Board even resolved to treat every loan according to its merit without making a blanket decision on the credit facilities. The process, he said led to the ratification of the loans during the July 9, 2008 meeting of the board.
Some of the loans ratified by the bank on their merits, Prof Utomi told the court include the disputed loans of which the defendants were being tried.
However the matter was further adjourned to September 20 , 2013, for the continuation of trial.

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