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Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Ex-GM of Nat’l Theatre, 4 other staff charged with bribery, fraud

Ex-GM of Nat’l Theatre, 4 other staff charged with bribery, fraud

George Ufot Nkanta

A former General Manager of the National Theatre, George Ufot Nkanta has been charged for allegedly receiving bribe from a commercial firm contracted to the government.

Nkanta was charged alongside Abiodun Abe, Femi Joel, Ndubuisi Nwogu and Rose Okafor by the Attorney General of the Federation through the Special Presidential Investigation for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) in a two-count charge said to be contrary to Section 10(1) & (2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and punishable under Sections 1(2) & 10(1)(a) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act.

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In the proof of evidence attached to the charge cited by our reporter, one DSP Alhassan Emmanuel, an investigator with the Panel is expected to give evidence that he investigated the case of criminal conspiracy, criminal diversion of public funds and official corruption against the five defendants as well as one Emmanuel O. Okolie, the CEO of Market Execution Solutions Ltd.

The panel said investigation found that Nkanta masterminded the diversion of N24 million public funds to the account of a private company contrary to the government policy of transferring such funds to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) platform.

The N24million is said to be rent payable to the government account by the Nigerian Breweries PLC on a government property known as Branding of ABE-IGI, a hospitality premises belonging to the federal government.

DSP Emmanuel is also expected to give evidence on how the private company run by Okolie disbursed the money to some directors of National Theatre upon verbal instruction of Nkanta, and that the total money was recovered when all the suspects confessed to receiving the money.

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Also, one Damaris Ma’aji Bavueza, a director in National Theatre and National Troupe is expected to give evidence on how Okolie paid N500,000 to her account upon the instruction of Nkanta under the pretext that it was meant for running expenses of her unit.

She is also expected to testify that directors of the National Theatre were paid same amount of money for the same reason.

Okolie as well as the present Artistic Director/CEO of the National Theatre, Tar Ukoh are also expected to give evidence to establish the case of bribery against the defendants.

The charge, signed by the Chief Legal Officer of the Panel, Dr. Celsus Ukpong, was filed at the Lagos division of the Federal High Court. It has not yet been assigned to a judge.

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