Alleged Funds Diversion: EFCC Operative Testifies Against Fani-Kayode, Others
An operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Shuaibu Shehu, has told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that a former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, received the sum of N350million from the Ministry of External Affairs through his Zenith Bank account without executing any project or rendering any service to the ministry.
Shehu is the third prosecution witness in the trial of the former Minister of Finance, Mrs Nenadi Usman, Mr Fani-Kayode, one Danjuma Yusuf, and a company, Joint Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited, on allegations of laundering N4.6billion.
The EFCC witness told Justice Rilwan Aikawa that he became familiar with the charge against the defendants in February 2016, when a petition over the alleged fraudulent transfer from the ministry’s account was assigned to his team to investigate.
Led in evidence by the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness stated that the sum of N800m was transferred from the Ministry of External Affairs to a company called Joint Trust Dimension Ltd without the company also executing any contract.
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Shehu further testified that Joint Trust Dimension Ltd was used to divert the funds by the defendants without any service rendered to the ministry.
He identified to the court various Zenith Bank cheques which were recovered in the cause of investigating the alleged fraud.
A move by the EFCC to tender some of the Zenith bank cheques allegedly used by Fani-Kayode for the withdrawal of the monies, however, met with stiff objections from the defence team.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa, thereafter, adjourned till Thursday to allow the defendants go through the proof of evidence with regard to the cheques.
The defendants are facing 17 counts bordering on conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering.
The first defendant in the case is Mrs Usman; Fani-Kayode is the second defendant while one Yusuf and a company, Joint Trust Dimensions Limited, were listed as the third and fourth defendants, respectively.
Fani-Kayode, who was the Director of Publicity of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign organisation for the 2015 election, was accused of conspiring with the others to, directly and indirectly, retain various sums which the EFCC claimed they ought to have reasonably known were proceeds of crime.
In one of the counts, the defendants were accused of conspiring among themselves to “indirectly retain the sum of N1,500, 000,000.00 which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing.”
The four were also accused of indirectly retaining N300m, N400m and N800m, all proceeds of corruption, according to EFCC.
Fani-Kayode was accused of directly using parts of the money at various times, including a N250,650,000.00, which he allegedly used between March 20 and 25, 2015.
Fani-Kayode was also accused of making a cash transaction of N24m with one Olubode Oke, said to still be at large, on February 12, 2015 “to Paste Poster Co of 125, Lewis Street, Lagos Island.”
The duo were said to have made the transaction without going through any financial institution, an act the EFCC claimed was contrary to sections 1(a) and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges.