SEC officials absolve Hembe of any wrong doing

Channels Television  
Updated July 18, 2012

Three officials of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) absolved the former Chairman of the House of Representative Committee on Capital Market, Mr Herman Hembe of any wrong doing over the funds provided by the Commission for the lawmaker to attend a conference in Dominican Republic which he never did.

The officials at the resumed hearing of the trial in an Abuja High Court testified that, Mr Hembe got to the United States but returned when he could not get a connecting flight to the conference in the Dominican Republic.

Mr Hembe and his deputy Ifeanyi Azubogu are standing trial for diversion of funds given to them as estacodes for the conference .

The three officials at the trail on Wednesday are Mr. Titus Ogunsanya, the Clerk of the House Committee on Capital Market, Hassan Mamanan, a Protocol Officer in the Securities and Exchange Commission and Mr. Ibrahim Usman a staff in the Finance and Accounts department of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The witnesses also told the court that estacode was paid to Hembe after he left the country.

The three witnesses told the court that Mr Hembe travelled for the conference sponsored by the SEC but stopped over in Atlanta, United States when he could not get a connecting flight to Dominican Republic, venue of the conference.

Mr Usman from SEC’s Finance department also confirmed to the court that the estacode was paid with the approval of the Director General of the SEC Aruma Oteh, days after the conference ended.

The two members of the House of Representatives had pleaded not guilty to the one count charge of fraudulently converting $495,000 for personal use.

Director General of SEC Ms Arunma Oteh had in March 2012 accused Mr Hembe of demanding a N39million bribe from her ahead of the commencement of the probe on the collapse of the Capital Market .

She further accused the lawmaker of demanding N5million from the commission to enable him travel to the Dominican Republic to attend an Emerging market conference without embarking on the journey.

The Presiding judge, Justice Abubakar Umar rejected the request of the prosecution counsel to remand the defendants in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), stating that the lawmakers have been on bail since the trial commenced. He also noted that the anti-graft agency had already concluded its investigation on the matter.

Other witnesses also testified that the rules stipulate that when estacodes are not utilized, they are either returned to the agency or the agency is at liberty to deduct same from the salaries of the affected persons

After the testimonies, lawyers to the two lawmakers informed the court that they would not call witnesses but will be making a no case submission.

The court gave the parties 45 days to exchange briefs and return to the Court on the 8th of October.