Money laundering charge: I am not ready for trial, Justice Ngwuta tells Court

Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court, who is facing 16-count charge bordering on money laundering, age falsification and his alleged illegal possession of multiple international passports, on Tuesday, told a Federal High Court in Abuja that he was not ready for trial.

Ngwuta who was docked before the high court on November 21 and subsequently granted bail to the tune of N100million, pleaded for an adjournment to enable him to adequately prepare his defence to allegations the Federal Government levelled against him.

The embattled jurist made the application on a day the prosecution, led by a former attorney at the International Criminal Court of Justice, ICC, Mr. Charles Adeogun-Philips, disclosed that three witnesses were in court to enter evidence against him.

“My lord we are ready to open our case today. Our witnesses are in court and we have all our arsenals ready”, the prosecution told the court.

However, Ngwuta’s lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, who was formerly an Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, insisted that his client would need more time and facilities to prepare for his defence.

“My lord we are anxious for this matter to commence so that we will know our fate.

However, we will be pleading with your lordship to grant us an adjournment so that we can be fully prepared. We have so many documents yet to access. Under the constitution, the defendant requires adequate time to prepare for his defence. “The matter cannot even go on tomorrow (Wednesday) as earlier stated, because we still have a lot of work to do”.

He also prayed the court to direct the prosecution to furnish him with all the documents he intends to adduce in the course of the trial. “My lord you heard the prosecution describe it as an arsenal. We became afraid when he made that statement”, Agabi stated. However, FG, urged the court to refuse the adjournment request and okay the matter for immediate trial.

“My lord I am terribly astonished by my friends application this morning. This matter was fixed by consent of parties on November 21. May I also draw your lordship’s attention to Section 396(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, which makes provision for day-to-day trial of the defendant.

“Also bearing in mind that the front loading procedure of this court requires that all evidence must be adduced before hand and also served on the defence. “There is nothing materially different to warrant an adjournment.

So I will be asking my lord to reject the application. “I also want to refer my lord to the practice direction of this court. My lord this is indeed a high profile trial and there is need for expediency”, Adeogun-Philips submitted.

He further decried that a great amount of resources was expended to bring the three witnesses to court for the trial to commence. He urged the court to allow the prosecution to open its case and then adjourn to enable the defence to cross-examine the witnesses later.

Nevertheless, Agabi, SAN, pointed out that under the ACJA, his client was entitled to five adjournment requests. “I appreciate the sacrifices made by the prosecution. But it is a sacrifice made in the interest of justice. We have to come prepared. May I refer your lordship to Section 396 (4) of the ACJA. It said were day-to-day trial is practicable. We are entitled to five adjournments, but after today we won’t ask for another.

“Let us also not overlook provisions of the constitution in section 36(6) which allows for adequate time and facilities to be given to anyone charged to court to prepare his defence. The State is supposed to give us facilities. The application is made in good faith”. The prosecution immediately countered him, saying; “My lord, the right that accrues to the accused is to prepare his defence. Section 396(4) of ACJA only made reference to when day-to-day trial is impracticable. They have not demonstrated that to this court.

So I do not really see why my friend on the other side does not want this case to go on today”. In a bench ruling, trial Justice John Tsoho noted that section 396(4) of the ACJA indeed made provision for a maximum adjournment of five times. The judge stressed that section 36(6) of the 1999 constitution which allows a defence to have adequate time and facilities to prepare his defence, has a wider scope, saying it also encompasses the mental preparedness of an accused to stand trial.

“Viewed towards this perspective, this court is inclined to grant the request of the defence counsel”, Justice Tsoho held, noting that it was the first indulgence sought by by the defendant. He further held that section 36 of the Constitution overides the provision of section 396 of the ACJA. The matter was eventually adjourned till January 18 and 23, 2017, for trial.

FG had earlier opposed Ngwuta’s release on bail, stressing that he has the capacity to interfere with some of the witnesses billed to testify against him before the court.

The government told the court that shortly after Ngwuta was granted administrative bail by the DSS, he quickly called one of the proposed witnesses to help him conceal some of the evidence against him, including N27million he hid in his bathroom at Abakaliki in Ebonyi State.

In a 29-paragraphed counter-affidavit deposed to by one Ganau Noma Wando, FG further told the court that barely 20 minutes after Justice Ngwuta was released from DSS custody, he called one of the key witnesses, Mr. Nwamba Linus Chukwuebuka, to go to his house in Abakaliki and dispose off money and cars there. “The first instruction was ‘Go and get rid of those cars’. The second instruction was ‘go into my bathroom at my residence where you will find two or three bags, get rid of it immediately’.

“If the witness had gotten into the bathroom and found bags stuffed with newspapers, we won’t be raising this objection today. But the bags contained N27m which they removed from the defendant’s residence to another place. We could not even find it again”.

The prosecution also told the court that the defendant equally removed three exotic cars from his residence in his home town. “As at October 9, the defendant was already aware that he was subject of investigation by the DSS. In fact he had been in their custody for two nights and was interviewed for that 48 hours.

“He was aware that the subject matter of the items removed from his residence at Abakaliki would have been of interest to this investigation. This has put me in a very difficult situation, so much so that the defendant is charged with interference in count three. “In count 10- 16 in the charges, the defendant was alleged to have maintained multiple identities.

My lord, in any jurisdiction in the world, if a person is found to have multiple identities, I cannot but object to his release on self recognition or being released at all.

“On October 8, a day before the call was made to Abakaliki, the defendant was found with four valid passports.

Two of them were diplomatic passports while two are standard passports. “It did not stop there, it transpired from investigation by the Nigerian Immigration Service that earlier in the year, the defendant had declared two of those passports lost.

“Now we are confronted with such acts of dishonesty, with offences committed whilst in administrative bail. “It is not enough that he was found with four passports, but the NIS confirmed that he was using the passports concurrently and interchangeably.

“We only found four, there might be others. How do we know? When we searched his residence in Abuja we didn’t know there was N27m in his bathroom at his private residence located at Engineering Close, Off Onwe Road, Abakaliki Ebonyi State”, the prosecution counsel added.

It told the court that the witness, Nwamba, initially hid the bag that contained the N27m cash at the residence of one Abraham Ezeani in Abakaliki, saying the Money “was subsequently dissipate by Mr Nwamba on the direct instructions of the defendant/applicant”.

It listed the three exotic cars that Ngwuta allegedly attempted to conceal, as a Hummer Jeep Sports Utility Vehicle, Wrangler Jeep Sports Utility Vehicle and a BMW 5 Series Sedan Vehicle which it said was quickly moved by the defendant to Clevero Hotel in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.

FG said the properties which it maintained were derived from the proceeds of an unlawful act, were all subsequently recovered by investigators on November 11, following Nwamba’s arrest, weeks after the defendant had been released on administrative bail.

“That the sheer amount of raw cash either found on and/or concealed by the Defendant/Applicant following his arrest by the DSS, is indicative of the fact that he is a man of immense financial means and is sufficient ground for believing that if released on bail, he possesses the material ability to abscond and consequently not surrender himself for trial.

“That in view of the foregoing, despite his position as a serving Justice of the Supreme Court bench, it cannot be said that the Defendant/Applicant conduct as outlined above, is that of a law abiding Nigerian citizen who will surrender himself to the court for trial”, FG argued.

Nevertheless, in his ruling, Justice Tsoho noted that despite allegations FG raised against Ngwuta in the counter-affidavit, it still did not revoke the administrative bail it previously gave the defendant through the DSS. He said there was room for such bail to be revoked once the person it was granted to was seen to have breached it in anyway.

Besides, the Judge said it was no longer secret that security agencies have been monitoring the defendant since the day he was released from custody.

He held that the objection by the prosecution was founded on theories of what the defendant would likely do if granted bail, saying he was of the view that the FG has the security apparatus to circumvent whatever action the defendant could take to scuttle his trial.

“Consequently, this court is minded to grant the defendant bail in the sum of N100m on his personal recognition having reg to his status as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria”, Justice Tsoho held.

It will be recalled that Justice Ngwuta was among seven superior court judges that were arrested between October 7 and 8, after the DSS raided their homes in what it termed “a sting operation”.

He was in the amended charge marked FHC/ABJ/C/232, and signed by a Principal State Counsel, Hajara H. Yusuf, alleged to have among other offences, stashed foreign currencies in his Abuja home.

FG said the DSS, at the end of the search operation conducted at Ngwuta’s official residence, recovered several sums of cash, including the sum of Thirty-Five Million, Three Hundred and Fifty-Eight Thousand Naira (NGN35,358,000.00); Three Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Ninety- Six United States Dollars ($319,596.00).

As well as Twenty-Five Thousand Nine Hundred and Fifteen Pounds Sterling (GBP 25,915) and Two Hundred and Eighty Euros (EURO 280.00).

It said the search also revealed about four Diplomatic passports, one official and two standard Nigerian passports all in the name of the defendant.

FG told the court that the DSS executed a search warrant at Justice Ngwuta’s home on October 8, following series of allegations of corruption that were levelled against him. Documents sighted by Vanguard revealed that FG has lined-up five witnesses that will testify against Ngwuta.

The witnesses are Aminu N Ibrahim, who is to testify on the search conducted on the defendant’s residence on or about 7/8 October, Ngo Awoikiega, who will testify on the investigation/ interrogation of the Defendant Others are Mr. Tanko Nuhu Kutana, an Immigration Officer who will testify on the multiple Diplomatic and Standard Nigerian Passports obtained by the Defendant. Ogudu Nwadire will tell the court how as an Architect to the defendant between 2014 and 2016, he handled several projects for which he received cash payments totalling $100,000.00.

While Nwamba Linus Chukwuebuka will testify on how as a building contractor to the defendant between 2014 and 2016, he handled several projects for which he received cash payments from the Defendant totalling $1,000,000.00.

The DSS official responsible for the investigation of the case, Bamai Abu Nehemiah, had deposed an affidavit of completion of investigation into the matter.

According to him, “That I was informed by Hajara H. Yusuf, a Principal State Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation at her office at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja FCT on Monday, 18th day of October, 2016 at about 12 noon that it is the opinion of the Department of Public Prosecution that the investigations conducted in this case has so far revealed a prima facie case against the Defendant”.

Among exhibits FG said it would tender against the defendant, include search Warrant; cash recovered from the defendant’s residence; Video CDs of the defendant’s interview; Statement of the defendant dated October 12, 17, 24, 25 and 27.

Money Laundering: Ex-Lagos Speaker, Aide File Appeal At Supreme Court

A former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Ikuforiji Sabit Adeyemi, and his personal assistant, Olabode Alade Atoyebi, have filed an appeal at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, challenging a Court of Appeal judgment that recently ordered their re-trial on money laundering charges.

In their separate notices of appeal, the duo’s lawyer, Barrister Abiodun Onidare, is urging the Supreme Court to set aside the whole ruling of the Appeal Court. In their filings, the former Speaker and his aide described the Appeal Court’s decision as unreasonable and unwarranted, adding that the evidence on record could not support the verdict.

Consequently, both Mr. Ikuforiji and Mr. Oyebode want the Supreme Court to uphold their no-case submissions upheld on September 26, 2014 by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

In their notice, the appellants stated that they would file more grounds of appeal once they receive the certified true copy of the judgment given by the Court of Appeal.

The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal had recently set aside Justice Buba’s ruling discharging the former Speaker and his aide of a 56-count charge of conspiracy and the laundering the sum of N500 million belonging to the state legislature. The initial charges stated that the offenses violated sections 15 (1d) and 16(1d) of the Money Laundering Act (MLA) 2004 and 2011.

In a unanimous decision, the appellate court set aside Justice Buba’s verdict, holding that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had established a prima facie case against the former Speaker and his personal assistant to require them to enter a defense to the charges brought against them.

In the judgment delivered by Justice Biobela Georgewill, on behalf of the Justices Side Dauda Bage and Ugochukwu Ogakwu, the appellate court also ordered that the trial of the accused legislator and his aide should start afresh before another judge of the Federal High Court, Lagos other than Justice Buba.

Earlier, Justice Buba, in a controversial ruling that discharged the Speaker and his aide, held that the EFCC had failed to establish a prima-facie case against the accused persons. He added that the EFCC had not provided proof of any of the ingredients of the crime of money laundering.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC’s counsel, Godwin Obla, filed an appeal dated September 30, 2014 asking the Court of Appeal to hold that Justice Buba erred in law when he held that most of the counts in the indictment were incompetent. Mr. Obla explained that the charges were filed in accord with Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, a law that was repealed by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011. The EFCC also argued that the lower court erred in law when it held that the provision of Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and 2011 only applies to natural persons and corporate bodies other than the government, like the office of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly.

The EFCC also submitted that the trial judge erred by ruling that the case of the prosecution witnesses supported the innocence of the respondents.

In his ruling, Justice Georgewill held that the offenses created by Section 1 of the MLA 2004 and 2011 respectively are strict liability offences, adding that the proof does not depend on the approval and purposes the money was used for. He added that the indictment would be valid once the amount involved was above a certain threshold amount and was not paid or received through a financial institution either by an individual or a body corporate.

CORRUPTION: Senior Lawyer Jailed 4 Years for Money Laundering.

The Federal High Court Kano presided over by Justice Fatu Riman has convicted and sentenced one Yakubu Mohammed Na-Allah, a senior lawyer to four years imprisonment without option of fine for offenses of money laundering to the the tune of Fifty Million Naira Only (N50,000,000).

The convict was arraigned by the EFCC on 14 January, 2013 on a two count charge of money laundering. Upon arraignment, Na-Allah pleaded not guilty and subsequently trial commenced on 26 June, 2013 in which the prosecution called seven witnesses and tendered fifteen exhibits.

On February 1, 2013 the properties of the convict were attached by the EFCC following an interim forfeiture order issued by the same court.

Na-Allah’s journey to prison started when the commission received a petition that the 68-year-old Kano Lawyer, allegedly duped two of his clients to the tune of N50million part of the money recovered for his client in a case they filed against Ministry of Solid Minerals where the convict represented them. The petition alleged that the convict after winning the case and the sum of Ninety Million Naira (N90,000,000) recovered, he gave his client only Thirty Million Naira (N30,000,000) and converted the rest of the money to his personal use. However, investigation by the EFCC revealed that the convict used part of the proceeds to acquire a palatial mansion in Sharada area of Kano.

In his judgment, Justice Riman ruled that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and subsequently convicted Na-Allah.

Prosecution counsel, M.S Abubakar urged the court to consider the forfeiture of properties acquired by the convict with the proceed of his crime.
Justice Riman sentenced the convict to serve two years imprisonment on each of the two count charge and also ordered that the attached property of the convict worth Fifty Million Naira at the time it was purchased be forfieted to the Federal Government. The sentences are to run concurrently.

Money Laundering: Diezani Back In London Court March

Former Petroleum Minister Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and her mother Beatrice Agama have been told by a London court that they may still have a case to answer regarding the £27,000 money laundering and bribery allegation made against her by the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

The ex-minister, who was first arraigned at the Westminster Magistrate’s Court in October last year, would have to return again in March on the request of the NCA for another six months to give the agency more time to tighten its case.

With the March date, it is the third time in one year that Mrs. Alison-Madueke and others would be invited.

The former minister, her mother (the lead suspect); son Ugonna Madueke, family friend Ms Melanie Spencer, wife of a Ghanaian oil tycoon, Kevin Okyere and one of her siblings are all on the radar of the UK crime agency.

It is typical of the NCA, drawing its authority from the Proceeds of Crime Act, to ask for more time for its investigations to build a strong case.

The Proceeds of Crime Act says: “The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) sets out the legislative scheme for the recovery of criminal assets with criminal confiscation being the most commonly used power.”

Confiscation occurs after a conviction has taken place. Other means of recovering the proceeds of crime, which do not require a conviction, are provided for in the Act, namely civil recovery, cash seizure and taxation powers.

The investigation is now global, extending to Nigeria and Switzerland, where billionaire businessman Kola Aluko was questioned and his home raided on the request of the NCA.

Aluko, who has Swiss nationality and owns Atlantic Energy, did some oil deals with Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) when Mrs. Alison-Madueke was in charge.

He is believed to be a key figure in the money laundering network.

Atlantic Energy signed a lucrative strategic alliance in 2011 with NNPC under Mrs. Alison-Madueke, giving it the right to sell oil from four big blocks on behalf of Nigeria.

Before the oil price crashed, Aluko said the commercial value of the contract was estimated at $7 billion.

Aluko confirmed to the Sunday Times of London last year that he was under a probe on potential violations of the United Kingdom Proceeds of Crime Act and Bribery Act. But he professed his innocence.

He said: “I am willing to co-operate with anybody. I have nothing to hide.”

The businessman added that he paid the rent on a flat in St John’s Wood in London for Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s mother, “as well as bringing her hams, sausages and orchids”.

Beatrice, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, son and others involved in the laundering and bribery allegation risk losing the £27,000 in contention and jail term, if the charges were proven against them in court.


‘Money laundering’: Diezani back in London court March

Banker gets 12-year jail term, forfeits N43m for money laundering.

The Federal High Court in Ibadan has sentenced a former employee of Wema Bank, Ademola Oni, to 12-year imprisonment for conspiracy and money laundering.

The court, which was presided over by Justice Joyce Abudmalik on Thursday, also ordered that the convict forfeit all his properties and cash in various banks as proceeds of crime.

The properties to be forfeited by the convict are an empty plot of land fenced with black gate located along the road beside Secam Church, Providence Estate, Sango Eleyele Expressway, Ibadan.

He is also to forfeit a Honda Accord Car 2014 model and another empty plot of land located at Alao Akala Estate, along Akubu Ojuirin, near Apostolic Church, Ikolaba, Ibadan.

Others are a storey building located at Aminu Olaniran Street, Ikolaba behind the Apostolic church, Ikolaba Assembly, Ikolaba, Ibadan; and three acres of land at Okuna Village, Along Akufo Village, by Fumakson filling station, Ido Local Government Area, Ibadan.

An empty plot of land at No. 16, Awolowo Avenue, Old Bodija, Ibadan; a storey building located at No. 16, Awolowo Avenue, Old Badija, Ibadan; and a borehole machine are to be forfeited also.

He is also to forfeit several sums in bank accounts, including N43,259,441.22 in a fixed deposit account with FCMB; N70,614.60 in the name of ‘De-City-Life Enterprise with account No. 22749019 also domiciled with FCMB; another N7,189.22 in the name of Oni Iyabo Mary in the same bank; and N966,788.81 in the First Bank account of Ezomal Ventures, among others.

Ademola was arraigned alongside six former officials of the CBN and 15 others from different commercial banks in an alleged case of conspiracy and money laundering.

The bankers allegedly conspired to steal and conceal mutilated and defaced local currency amounting to N8bn from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Ademola, who was the fourth defendant in the case, entered into a plea bargain with the prosecution, and pleaded guilty to an amended charge.

At the resumed hearing on Thursday, October 6th, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Adeniyi Adebisi, presented the perfected agreement and an amended charge to the court against him.

Ademola pleaded guilty to five of the 24-count amended charge.

Justice Abudmalik convicted him and sentenced him to two-and-a-half years on each of the five counts. The sentences are to run concurrently

The trial of the other defendants continues.

Money Laundering: Court Remands Ex-Adamawa Gov, Fintiri, In Kuje Prison

 Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, ordered that former Adamawa State Governor, Mr Ahmadu Umaru (a.k.a Umaru Fintiri) be remanded in prison custody pending the determination of his bail application.
Fintiri was docked  by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a five-count charge bordering on money laundering.
Specifically, he was alleged to have defrauded the state government to the tune of N970 million and another $4, 830 dollars while he held sway as the chief executive of the state.
The defendant, however pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
His counsel, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), applied for his bail on the grounds that the alleged offence was a bailable one.
Magaji premised his argument for bail on section 35 subsection 6 of the 1999 Constitution which presumes his client innocent until proven guilty.
He also relied on sections 158 and 163 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, in urging the court to admit the defendant to bail.
Magaji assured the court that Fintiri would not jump bail and that he would always be available to defend himself and urged the court to admit his client to bail.
In opposing the bail application, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Peters Aso referred the court to a document filed by the defence concerning a medical issue of the defendant.
Aso, in his argument he said it appeared that Fintiri had lied on oath, since the date which he said the doctor examined him was different from the date he said the doctor told him of his ailment.
The prosecuting counsel said although he was not a medical personal, he believed that one was examined before he was told of his health.
He also prayed the court to deny the bail application on the grounds that he was sure the defendant would come for trial if granted bail.
Trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed fixed ruling on the bail application for tomorrow.

Credit: Sun

Buhari Appeals To National Assembly To Pass Money Laundering, NDDC, FCT, Other Bills

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday night appealed to the National Assembly to, as a matter of urgency, consider and pass five bills presently before it.

He made the appeal while speaking at a dinner he hosted in honour of National Assembly members at the old Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja.
He listed the bills to include the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Appropriation bill, Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) bill, Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters bill, Statutory Budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) bill and a Bill for Acts for domestication of agreements for avoidance of double taxation between Nigeria and South Korea, Spain, and Sweden respectively.

The president observed that both the FCT and the NDDC could not execute their statutory mandates unless their budgets were approved by the National Assembly.

Buhari thanked the lawmakers for their painstaking efforts that led to the passage of the 2016 Budget.

He said: “It is on record that this is one rare occasion where the Appropriation Act was assented to with the schedule i.e the details.”

The president said that the dinner was held first to mark 2016 Democracy Day and to further appreciate the National Assembly leadership, membership and management for the great work they had done.

He restated the commitment of his administration to observing the principles of separation of powers.

Credit: Thisday

Ex-Imo Gov Ohakim Gave Me $2.29m Cash To Buy Mansion – Witness

A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of a former Imo State governor, Ikedi Ohakim, has told Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja how the former governor allegedly gave him the sum of $2, 290,000.00(Two Million, Two Hundred and Ninety Thousand Dollars) to purchase a piece of land at Plot No. 1098 Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District, otherwise known as No.60, Kwame Nkurumah Street, Asokoro, Abuja.

In his testimony on Monday, December 7, 2015, Abu Sule, told the court that he met the accused person in Lagos State sometime in the mid-nineties while he worked as a consultant on a project to which the accused person was a contractor.

Led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Festus Keyamo, Sule, Managing Director, Tweenex Consociate H.D. Limited, further told the court that the accused person, whom he described a ‘‘senior friend and benefactor’’, did not sever his relationship with him, after he had become governor.
In his testimony, he said: ‘‘Before 2008, Chief Ohakim had requested that I find him a house that he could buy in Asokoro. I later found a house at Plot No. 1098 Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District, otherwise known as No.60, Kwame Nkurumah Street, Asokoro, Abuja. Immediately, I informed him about the property and he trusted my judgment on it.

“I told him the price, which was N270m and he provided the money in cash. It was $2.290m then and he paid in one tranche. I received the money from him at the Imo State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, at night.”

Sule further told the court that he called one Alhaji Isah Muntair Maidabino the following day and arranged to meet him at the Unity Bank, Maitama Branch, Abuja.

According to him, Maidabino, upon receipt of the money, decided to off-set some loans he had obtained from the bank immediately.

He added: “When I collected the original documents of the property from Maidabino, I informed Chief Ohakim and also asked for the name to use on the Deeds of Assignment and Power of Attorney. After some delay, he said I should use my Company’s name. I agreed to do it because he had been my benefactor.”

When asked if the house was given to him as a gift, Sule told the court that the property had never been his.

Speaking further, he said: “I gave the original documents of the property to Chief Ohakim, but I only have photocopies.”

Both the Sales Agreement and Deeds of Assignment documents were tendered by the prosecution counsel and admitted in evidence as Exhibit EFCC 14 A and B by the court.
Testifying further, Sule also stated that the accused person instructed him to carry out the renovation of the house, which was done over a period of one and a half years before he allegedly handed over the house to him.

According to him, “in 2012, Chief Ohakim made me do a tenancy agreement, after mounting a lot of pressure on me. We gave him an offer letter and he wrote an acceptance letter to us. It was accompanied with three cheques for N20 million. We issued him a receipt and tenancy agreement.”
The prosecution counsel also tendered copies of the various correspondences between PW2 and the accused person, which were all admitted as Exhibits EFCC 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 A and B.

When asked if he had ever written a letter demanding renewal of the rent by the accused person given that the receipt he earlier issued to him (the accused person) would have expired in April 2014, he answered in the negative.
He also told the court that the accused person had not contacted him about his tenancy since the supposed tenancy expired in April 2014.

While explaining what he spent the N20 million he collected from the accused person for, he said, “Chief Ohakim gave me the money to renovate his property on 8, Halie Sallassie Street, Asokoro. We later handed the property to him, after the renovation.”

The defence counsel led by Awa Kalu, SAN, raised no objection to the testimonies by PW 2.

However, counsel to the defence prayed the court for the release of the accused person’s international passport, which was submitted to the court in fulfillment of the bail conditions, granted him on Thursday, July 9, 2015, to enable him travel for medical check abroad.

Justice Ademola granted interim release of the accused person’s international passport to enable him travel for four weeks to undergo medical check; but ordered that the accused person must surrender his international passport to the Court Deputy Registrar within 72 hours of returning from his medical trip abroad.

The defendant’s surety must also give a written undertaking to guarantee the appearance of the accused person in court, failing which he would be held in place of the accused person.

The case has been adjourned to January 26 and 27, 2016 for continuation of trial.


Credit : Vanguard

Money Laundering: EFCC Received Over Five Petitions Against Ohakim – Witness

A prosecution witness has told Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, received over five petitions against former Imo State governor, Ikedi Ohakim, who was arraigned on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 on a three-count charge bordering on money laundering.


Ohakim is alleged to have made a cash payment of $2, 290,000.00 (two million, two hundred and ninety thousand dollars), for a piece of land at Plot No. 1098 Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District, otherwise known as No.60, Kwame Nkurumah Street, Asokoro, Abuja.


While answering a question by the defence counsel, Awa Kalu, SAN, prosecution witness, Ishaya Dauda, said the Commission received over five petitions against the accused person.


Dauda, a Senior Detective Superintendent, SDS, with the EFCC, also told the court that some of the petitions against the accused person were received from the following sources: Alliance of Redemption and Destiny Organization; Aggrieved Imo State Citizens; Citizens for Imo Economic Security and 27 people (who are all signatories to a petition) from each of the 27 local governments in the state.


When asked by the defence counsel if he made any effort to confirm whether or not the groups were registered, Dauda said there was no need to do that.


Dauda further told the court, while answering a question by the defence counsel, that all the petitions were investigated.


However, when the defence counsel asked for copies of the petitions in court, the prosecution witness told the court that the petitions were in the Commission’s files.


“My Lord, it is important we see the petitions because the liberty and freedom and of our client is at stake. Besides, we need to see the petitions so that we can cross-examine the witness thoroughly,” said the defence counsel.


However, the prosecution counsel, Festus Keyamo, raised an objection to the request, saying that the defence counsel had failed to do the proper thing as required by law.


According to Keyamo, “My Lord, in a criminal charge, you cannot ask a witness to present copies of petitions in court. It is wrong to harass or ambush a witness to present copies of petitions against an accused person in court. If you really needed them, you should have applied for them or told me. If you want them and you tell me, I will bring them.”


The defence counsel then prayed the court to ask the prosecution witness to give him copies of the petitions.


Responding, Keyamo told the court that he would give copies of the petitions to the defence counsel within 24 hours.


In his ruling, Justice Ademola said the prosecution was right in his submission, adding that, “If you( the defence counsel) needed them, as you do need them, you would have asked the prosecution to give them to you.”


The case was adjourned to December 7, 2015 for continuation of trial.


Credit : PM News

EFCC To Review Suswam’s N41 Billion Money Laundering Allegation

Indications emerged yesterday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, will be reviewing the case file of former governor of Benue state, Senator George Akume, over allegation of money laundering to the tune of N41billion.

Also, the immediate past governor of Benue state, Dr. Gabriel Suswam yesterday honoured the invitation of the commission on alleged misappropriation of SURE-P funds to the tune of N6.5billion as well as the N90billion the current administration alleged that Suswam left behind as debt.

A highly placed source at the EFCC, yesterday, said that former governor Gabriel Suswam who arrived the commission headquarters about 10am allegedly told the team of crack investigators during his interrogations at Idiagbon House that he inherited 75 percent of the debt profile during the administration of George Akume.

According to the source, Suswam told the operatives of the EFCC that during the eight years of his tenure he only collected bond of N17billion. The source further added that Suswam who was accompanied with two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, also released damaging documents against Senator Akume to further convince the operatives of the EFCC that he could not be investigated without Akume’ involvement.

The source further said that in the mind-boggling revelations from Suswam, the commission will have no choice than to call on the case file of Akume that was ready for prosecution during the tenure of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu before the then Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mike Kaase Aondoakaa, SAN, and the former Chairman of EFCC, Farida Waziri allegedly took over the case file.

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Diezani Walks Out Of Jail On Bail

Nigeria’s former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was arrested earlier today by the London metropolitan police, has been released on bail.

She was picked up alongside four others.

However, she has been asked to report at Charing Cross Police Station on Monday for further grilling and her passport has been seized.

She’s answering for corruption and money laundering charges preferred against her. Her Abuja home was sealed by the EFCC on Friday as well.

Many Nigerian investments done with dirty money –Ribadu

Former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, on Wednesday alleged that a lot of investments being done in the country were from funds earned through illegal activities.

He also identified illicit financial activities such as terrorism financing and money laundering as a major challenge affecting the country’s quest for development.

Ribadu spoke in Abuja at the 2nd Anti-money laundering/combating financial terrorism stakeholders’ consultative workshop organised by the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist.

He said Nigeria had yet to maximise its potential owing to terrorism financing and other money laundering activities, noting that the trend was making the country to lose huge funds.

He said. “Everything that is wrong about Nigeria has to do with dirty money. If you can follow it, get it back and punish these people, then you have cured the problem of Nigeria.

“When I look around, I see a lot of investments done with dirty money. Government needs help in identifying and arresting these people. Though it may seem like a daunting task, with professionals like ACAMS, Nigeria is poised to achieve this.”

Ribadu said there was a need for collaboration between relevant stakeholders to fight money laundering and curb terrorism financing.

He called for the building of a strong anti-graft institution to spearhead the fight against money laundering, adding that the restructuring of the banking sector had helped to restore confidence in the Nigerian economy.

He said, “In 2003, Nigeria was on the blacklist of most developed countries especially the US for money laundering.”

Source : Punch

Money Laundering: Congolese Forfeits $511,225 To Federal Government

Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos today convicted one Kutumisana Mbuta Blaise, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, for money laundering.

Blaise was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on one court charge of money laundering sequel to his arrest at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos for being in possession of Five Hundred and Eleven Thousand, Two Hundred and Twenty Five United States dollars ($511,225.00), cash which he failed to declare to the officers and men of the Nigerian Customs Service as required by the provisions of Section 2(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No. 1 of 2012).

He had pleaded not guilty upon arraignment but after diligent prosecution by the EFCC, Justice Buba found him guilty as charged.

“The court is satisfied that the prosecution proved his case beyond reasonable doubt and thereby finds you Kutumisana Mbuta Blaise guilty of the allegation contained in the one count charge before the court and hereby convict you of the offence of failure to declare the sum of Five Hundred and Eleven Thousand, Two Hundred and Twenty Five United States of America Dollars in contravention to section 2(3) Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended by Act No. 1 of 2012) and punishable under section 2(5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No. 1 of 2012).”

The convict is to forfeit the entire sum to the Federal Government of Nigeria in line with provisions of the Money Laundering Act.

PM News

Breaking News!!! Court Acquits Femi Fani-Kayode Of Money Laundering Charges

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court on Wednesday July 1, 2015, acquitted former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, of money laundering charges.

Fani-Kayode, who was spokesperson for the President Goodluck Jonathan’s Campaign Committee, has been facing trial for alleged criminal acts committed during his time as minister.

The judge described the case brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as “feeble” and duly discharged Fani-Kayode in the absence of “copious evidence.”

According to the judge, he EFCC’s case against Fani Kayode was unproven and ambiguous.

Details later…

Money Laundering: Fani-Kayode Knows Fate Today

The Federal High Court in Lagos will today, June 18 deliver judgement in the alleged money laundering case involving the director of Media of the Goodluck Jonathan 2015 Presidential Campaign Organization, Femi Fani-Kayode.

The trial judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia had fixed the date last month after counsels to Fani-Kayode and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) adopted their final written addresses.

Fani-Kayode was arraigned before the court by the EFCC on a two count charge of laundering the sum of N2.1 million, while he was serving in President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration as Minister of Aviation and Minister of Culture and Tourism.

He was specifically accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of conducting financial transaction exceeding N500,000, which was not done through a financial institution by accepting cash payment of various sums which was further carried in cash to First City Monument Bank Plc (FCMB) through some of his associates. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Read Moreleadership

We Get Too Many Complaints Against Obasanjo Foundation – UK Commission

United Kingdom Charity Commission says it has received many complaints about the Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation in London concerning allegations of financial misconduct and conflicts of interest.

The UKCC’s spokesperson, Sarah Hitchings, told Punch in an email that the commission had also started a broad investigation into the matters because the foundation had violated its regulatory standards.

She said, “We have received complaints about this charity and issues including alleged conflicts of interest and alleged financial misconduct. We currently have an open case in relation to this charity and have been in contact with the trustees.

“We have recently become aware of further information about potential wrong-doing at the charity which is of regulatory concern to the commission and we are currently considering this new information. We cannot comment further while our case is live.”

Meanwhile, the commission refused to comment on any actions taken against the recently sacked London-based Chief Executive Officer of the foundation, Anne Welsh, on allegations of money laundering.

“We cannot give information about a charge on the chief executive officer – this would be a question for the Police,” Hitchings added.

The Chief of Staff to former President Obasanjo, Mr. Victor Durodola, had told Saturday PUNCH that Welsh was relieved of her duties due to allegations of money laundering activities.

“It is true and it is sad,” he said, while commenting on the sacking of the former chief executive.

SaharaReporters had earlier obtained a video footage, which showed that Welsh was allegedly involved in plotting a $4.9m (N980m) scheme to exploit the Ebola Virus Disease tragedy in West Africa through helping a group of “Lebanese businessmen,” who wished to donate money to the Obasanjo Foundation for some works in Sierra Leone.

The footage revealed that the group demanded that it would make a donation of $2m (N400m) to the foundation if it helped it launder the balance of $2.9m, which Welsh agreed to.

“I had to go through training, through president Obasanjo, political training for one year to become discreet,” she said in the video,” adding that, “Sometimes, we get dollars from people who give money to our foundation and they say they don’t want it to be known that they donated the money, but they want to have a letter on our letterhead and a letter from Obasanjo just to say ‘Thank you’ for your kind donations to the foundation for the work to support Ebola.’ That’s it. That is what we normally do.”

Welsh had also demanded from the group an interest of 30 per cent on the $2.9m.

“At least 30 per cent; think about the hard work I’m going to put into this, you will be so grateful to me,” she said.

The video evidence had also showed that the group agreed to give her the 30 per cent, which was $90,000 (N180m), and detailed how the money would be transferred via a Nigerian bank.

I Was Trained By Obasanjo – Ms. Welsh On Laundering Scandal

On Thursday, a video of Anne Welsh, the CEO of the Obasanjo Foundation in London, obtained by SaharaReporters, showed her boasting that she has operated a well-oiled money-laundering scheme for many years.

The video, discreetly shot by one of the participants in the meeting in the United Kingdom in December 2014, reveals that Ms. Welsh was involved in a $4.9 million scheme to exploit the Ebola Virus Disease tragedy in West Africa through helping a group of ‘Lebanese businessmen’ who wished to donate money to the Obasanjo Foundation for some work in Sierra Leone.

The group explains that it would make the donation on one condition: the Obasanjo Foundation would get $2m, as long as it helps launder the balance of $2.9m.

Ms. Welsh also makes a shocking accusation: she says she learnt the art from former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“I had to go through training through President Obasanjo, political training for one year to become discreet,” she says.

“Sometimes we get dollars from people who give money to our foundation and they say they don’t want it to be known that they donated the money but they want to have a letter on like our letter-headed paper and a letter from Obasanjo stating just to say ‘Thank you for your kind donations to the foundation for the work to support Ebola’. That’s it. That is what we normally do.”

On Friday, Premium Times reported that the Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation fired Ms. Welsh over the revelations that emerged on the video.

Obasanjo said he, other trustees of the organization, as well as staff of the Foundation were deeply saddened and disturbed by the allegations from Ms. Weish.

“Accordingly, the Board of Trustees has asked her to immediately resign, and she has done so.” Obasanjo told Premium Times over the phone.

The former President also said the Foundation has launched a full-scale investigation into the allegations and has already reported the matter to the London Metropolitan Police and the UK Charity Commission for a thorough probe.

He also said his Foundation had already contacted personalities mentioned or photographed with Ms. Welsh in the publication that revealed the deal, as well as other dignitaries and partners to inform them that “she has now become a persona non grata with the Foundation and its Chairman/Founder.”

Anne Welsh
Anne Welsh

Obasanjo also claimed that Ms. Welsh had ceased to be the chief executive officer of the Foundation in December 2014 when she reportedly met the Lebanese businessmen to strike the alleged money laundering deal.

“The CEO of the Foundation at that time was Franklin Lisk,” the former President said.

“I can never associate myself with anything that has to do with money laundering and corruption, and this is a very disturbing development for us all,” the former President said.

Obasanjo, however, did not address Ms. Welsh’s accusation, where she said she learnt the art of money laundering under him for a year.

Obasanjo, whose regime has been labeled as ‘one of the most corrupt regimes’ ever in Nigeria history, comparable only to Gen. Sani Abacha’s tenure, has been in the news lately, with arguments coming up on social media as to whether or not he and his administration were corrupt.

Notable among his defenders is the former Minister of Education, Obiageli Ezekwesili, who claimed that Obasanjo cannot be labeled corrupt due to insufficient or lack of “empirical evidence”.

The link reveals a foreign affairs report detailing how Obasanjo manipulated the 2003 and 2007 General Elections.

Regardless of Obasanjo’s actions of firing Ms. Welsh and ordering an investigation, many believe he has not addressed the issues in her claims that she was trained by him and was acting on his behalf.

Many believe that the whole action was simply a façade for the international community, as he (Obasanjo) has not provided empirical evidence to ascertain his innocence.

Credit – www.

Obasanjo Foundation Sacks Trustee Implicated In Money Laundering Deal; Reports Her To London Police

The Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation on Friday said it has fired a member of its Board of Trustees, Anne Welsh, following shocking reports that she plotted to help some Lebanese businessmen to launder millions of dollars.

A new video obtained by SaharaReporters and published Thursday suggested Mrs. Welsh “operated a well-oiled money-laundering scheme for many years”.

In the video, which the news website said was discreetly shot by one of the participants at a meeting in the United Kingdom in December 2014, Ms. Welsh was seen negotiating a $4.9 million money laundering scheme that would have seen her pocket about a million dollars.

She was seen exploiting the Ebola Virus Disease tragedy in West Africa to help a group of “Lebanese businessmen” who wished to donate money to the Obasanjo Foundation for some work in Sierra Leone.

The group, the video indicates, explained it would make the donation on one condition: the Obasanjo Foundation would get $2m, as long as it helps launder the balance of $2.9m.

But when contacted Friday, the Founder/Chairman of the Foundation, Olusegun Obasanjo, said he, other trustees of the organization as well as staff of the Foundation were deeply saddened and disturbed by the allegations against Mrs. Weish.

“Accordingly, the Board of Trustees has asked her to immediately resign, and she has done so.” Mr. Obasanjo told PREMIUM TIMES on telephone.

The former Nigerian President also said the Foundation has launched a full-scale investigation into the allegations and has already reported the matter to the London Metropolitan Police and the UK Charity Commission for a thorough probe.

“We have asked the two authorities to investigate the matter exhaustively,” Mr. Obasanjo said.

The former President also said his Foundation had already contacted personalities mentioned or photographed with Mrs Welsh in the publication that revealed the deal as well as other dignitaries and partners to inform them that” she has now become a persona non grata with the Foundation and its Chairman/Founder”.

Mr. Obasanjo however explained that Mrs Welsh had ceased to be chief executive officer of the Foundation in December 2014 when she reportedly met the Lebanese businessmen to strike the alleged money laundering deal.

“The CEO of the Foundation at that time was Franklin Lisk,” the former President said.

Mr. Obasanjo said he would travel to London to make more enquiry about the matter and that his Foundation would soon release a formal statement on the development.

“I can never associate myself with anything that has to do with money laundering and corruption, and this is a very disturbing development for us all,” the former President said.

According to information on the UK Charity Commission’s website, the Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation was granted charity status by the Charity Commission of England and Wales on September 24, 2012 with the vision of advancing human security in Africa.

“The foundation partners with change agents, policy makers, global partners and visionary individuals worldwide to tackle critical problems through the initiatives of leadership, of food and nutrition, girls education, youth empowerment and employment and health for non-communicable diseases. “

The charity, according to its 2013 annual report “works with countries across Africa —with a current focus on Republic of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal and Ethiopia —that are at development turning-points, where there is clear potential and a leader with the vision and will to achieve progress”.

Culled from premium times

Money Laundering: Fani-Kayode Knows Fate On June 18

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday fixed June 18 for judgment in the trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, charged with money laundering.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia fixed the judgment following the adoption of final written addresses and arguments by the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the accused.

Fani-Kayode, whose trial began in 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed, was accused by the EFCC of laundering about N100 million while he was the Minister of Culture and Tourism and later, the Minister of Aviation.

The laundered sum was, however, reduced to N2.1 million on Nov. 17, 2014 after Ofili-Ajumogobia had dismissed 38 of the 40 counts leveled against Fani-Kayode by the EFCC for want of proof.

At the resumed trial of the case on Monday, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr Festus Keyamo, urged the court to uphold the remaining two counts and to, accordingly, convict Fani-Kayode. He said the former minister had failed to exonerate himself of the allegations.

Keyamo pointed out that the object of the charge was that Fani-Kayode transacted in cash sums above N500,000 which was the threshold stipulated by the Money Laundering Act.

He said that Fani-Kayode had personally admitted making such transactions in his confessional statement of Dec. 22, 2008 to the EFCC.

Keyamo said:”In this statement, he admitted that he transacted in cash above N500,000. My Lord, this statement went in without objection by the accused and the statement was voluntary.

“With the combination of this confessional statement and the statement of the nvestigating police officer that investigated the allegations, we rely on all of these to submit that we have discharged our burden that monies were received by the accused in cash and were not done through any financial institution.”

Keyamo argued that the prosecution had discharged its duty once it established that Fani-Kayode transacted large sums above the Money Laundering threshold, adding that it was left for Fani-Kayode to explain the source of the money.

“Once you cannot explain the source of the large sums of money found on you, you are guilty of money laundering.

“If the prosecution must show where the money is coming from, then the whole essence of the money laundering law is defeated.

“It is not in all cases that the burden of proof lies on the prosecution; the burden at this point shifts to the accused,” Keyamo added.

He further argued that the court could not simply believe that the large sums that Fani-Kayode allegedly transacted were proceeds from his father’s estate.

According to him, the accused should have called the tenant who paid in the money to testify in court and also back it up with his bank’s statement.

But Fani-Kayode’s counsel, Mr Adedayo Adedipe (SAN), in his summary argument, maintained that Fani-Kayode made no confession to the EFCC, adding that the anti-graft agency had failed to show that Fani-Kayode actually accepted cash amounting to N1million as alleged in one of the counts.

Adedipe said the EFCC also failed to show to the court the person who handed over the money to the accused persons.

He said for the case of the prosecution to succeed it must be proved beyond reasonable doubts.

“My Lord, it is our submission that the accused does not have to prove his innocence; it is the prosecution that must prove its case beyond all reasonable doubts.

“In this particular case, the prosecution has failed to give the evidence of acceptance of N1 million in the entire trial, and none of the witnesses brought by the prosecution gave evidence of giving the accused cash,” Adedipe said.

The lawyer said the defence had raised doubts in the mind of the court regarding the veracity of the testimony of the EFCC’s witness, Supo Agbaje.

He said that Agbaje had earlier been declared wanted by the EFCC and subsequently listed as a prosecution witness.

Adedipe added:”My Lord, reasonable doubt exists as to what happened and that doubt should be resolved in favour of the accused.

“Do we believe Agbaje, a man fighting for his liberty, for his life, who was remanded? Reasonable doubt exists in the testimony given by Supo Agbaje, who was declared wanted by the EFCC and later used as a witness.”

Adedipe, while urging the court to discharge and acquit Fani-Kayode, said the EFCC had no case against him, but it was only striving to “show to the world that we have caught a big fish; but My Lord, there is no big fish here.”

Ofili-Ajumogobia, while fixing judgment for June 18, also granted an application to substitute Wale Ajisebutu with Ogbor Elliota as surety for Fani-Kayode.

Credit: NAN