Former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, on Tuesday disclosed than Jonathan gave the directive for transfer of cash to a Bureau-de-change, BDC, operator.
Dudafa made the disclosure while testifying in the hearing of N200m fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by the wife of the ex-President, Patience, against Skye Bank Plc and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Led by Patience’s lawyer, Mr. G.I. Abibo (SAN), the former presidential aide adopted his witness’ statement on oath and urged Justice Mohammed Idris to adopt same as his evidence in the case.
Upon adoption of his testimony, Dudafa was handed over to the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, for cross-examination.
The EFCC’s counsel asked if Dudafa knew one Festus Iyoha and Peter, and he answered in the affirmative, saying Iyoha was “a presidential steward; a steward that was attached to the President, the Commander-in-Chief.”
Oyedepo then said, “You had cause to instruct these two persons that you have identified as stewards to the President to take hard currency for onward delivery to Bureau de Change operators, particularly one Abubakar Murtala.”
Dudafa, however, rejected Oyedepo’s narratives, saying he never gave the stewards any instructions of his own but rather relayed to them instructions by the President and his wife.
“As you know, I was a servant, a domestic assistant to the President. By virtue of my position, I never had power to give instructions. I could only relay instructions of the then President and his wife to any aide that was available, including Festus and Peter,” Dudafa said.
Oyedepo asked the question again, stressing that Dudafa had yet to answer, Dudafa responded, “I will not be cowed or cajoled. I am under oath; probably Mr. Rotimi needs to be educated about the workings of the Presidency.”
Oyedepo insisted again, “In the course of your official duty, you handed over hard currency to Peter and Festus for onward delivery to a Bureau de Change operator, Murtala.”
Responding, the former presidential aide said, “I relayed different instructions from the President and his wife and the instruction can come in the form of ‘Dudafa, give this money to BDC, change it to dollars’. But if you say I did it, it was as if I did it on my own volition.
“Several times, the President and his wife gave me money, naira to exchange for dollars, which I relayed.”
Oyedepo, however, insisted that “it was not the President and his wife that did the physical handing over of the money.”
Dudafa threw back, “I will not agree! It could be that the President was in his bedroom and said, ‘Dudafa, take this money, give it to Festus in the sitting room.’ It doesn’t mean I was the one who gave the money to Festus. What is the problem with relaying message? If by my position, I could enter the President’s bedroom, I don’t know how that becomes a problem.”
When asked if he was aware that some of the cash sums were “in excess of $500,000 and $1m per day,” Dudafa said he did not know, because “I didn’t make the payments.”
The EFCC lawyer insisted that Dudafa knew the cash sum saying, “You were in constant communication via text messages with Mr. Abubakar Murtala.
“The communication was basically ‘what is the exchange rate today?”
After listening to the cross-examination, Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned the matter till March 26, 2018.