The Managing Director of Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited, Benjamin Joseph, reportedly cried and rolled on the floor of a courtroom recently, after he was denied a chance to testify. This is the latest in the protracted legal action that was launched by Joseph, who claimed that fraud was involved in a contract he had with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to supply HP laptops.
Nairametrics understands that the plaintiff previously had many opportunities to testify, but chose not to do so. He even supposedly addressed a letter to the court, in which he explained why he was disinterested in testifying. Parts of the letter reads:
“In view of the foregoing and the concerns raised in this correspondence, I express my sincere reservations about the modus and the end objective of the criminal trial above referenced. Regrettably, I do not feel in this circumstance that it would be safe for me to testify in this case with Mr Jude Obazuwa as the prosecutor, believing that he would lead me in destroying myself in the circumstance.”
Mr Joseph’s sudden renewed desire to testify was invigorated after his former business partner testified against him on January 30th, 2020. The said partner, who was identified by court documents as Princess Kama, was a key witness for the defense. She told the court how the plaintiff’s allegations bothered on a betrayal of trust.
According to Princess Kama, she was the one who helped Mr Joseph to secure the FIRS contract in 2012. She also claimed to have used her own money to finance the execution of the contract. However, just because he, Mr Joseph, was not pleased with his own share of the profit, he turned around and alleged fraud. See her explanation below:
“My Lord, I used my money and experience to package the bids. When the award was given to Citadel, we met with the point-person at Utako to agree on the sharing formula of the profit. We agreed that Mr Joseph will take the profit from one of the three lots. All the agreement was verbal, based on trust, in view of our over 10 years of friendship.
“The genesis of the whole problem was the decision to transfer the N38 million profit to him. But he wanted me to bring the entire value of the contract including the invoice value of the laptops supplied to us on credit by Technology Distributions. I refused because TD is supposed to take the agreed invoice value of the laptops while we take the profit.”
She further told the court the plaintiff was later offered N10 million during a reconciliation meeting that was held in Ado Ekiti with Chief Afe Babalola and other parties involved in the case. The businessman has denied this claim, despite previously admitting to them in his court filings.
The backstory: In 2012, when Benjamin got the contract to supply some laptops to the FIRS, he reportedly sent an authorisation letter to the FIRS in which he appointed Princess Kama as his representative. As a representative, Princess Kama’s job was to handle the transactions. Therefore, acting in her capacity as a representative, Princess Kama approached Technology Distributions Ltd to supply the laptops on a credit to the FIRS.
A statement seen by Nairametrics also noted that Technology Distributors had appointed two of its staff members to serve as signatories to an account that was opened for the purpose of disbursing funds for the contract. The company said this was a security measure that was put in place to avoid exposing the business to bad loans.
“In view of previous bad experience and in order to avoid exposing the business to bad loans, TD had nominated its staff – Mr. Chris Eze Ozims and Mrs. Shade Oyebode – to be signatories to an account opened for the purpose of disbursement of funds as regards the contract, solely as security for the laptops supplied on credit.
“Upon payment of the sum for the contract, TD had gone ahead to deduct the invoiced sum of the supplied laptops and had its staff resign as signatories to the account.”