A prosecution witness, Mr Shehu Shuaibu, has told a Federal High Court in Lagos that the sum of N800 million was paid from the Ministry of External Affairs into the account of a company, Jointrust Dimension Ltd.
The witness, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), gave the testimony on Tuesday at the resumed trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, and others facing N4.6 billion money laundering charge.
Also charged are a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenandi Usman, and a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Yusuf Danjuma.
EFCC preferred a 17-count of money laundering against the defendants but all pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.
The anti-graft agency has since opened its case and the third prosecution witness, Shuaibu, was examined in chief.
The prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, continued the examination of the witness after the court had earlier rejected an objection to the admissibility of two documents tendered by the witness.
At the last adjourned date, the defence had objected to the admissibility of bank documents tendered through the witness on the ground that they were not legible and also not public documents.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa, however, rejected the objection on the ground that even if the witness was not the maker of the said document, they were gotten in the course of his investigation and therefore, admissible.
The court accordingly admitted and marked the documents as exhibits 15 and 16 respectively.
In continuation of his evidence, Oyedepo asked the witness to tell the court his findings during investigations.
The witness who first confirmed that exhibit E8 was the statement of account of Jointrust Dimension Ltd, told the court that investigations revealed that on January 16, 2015, the sum of N800million was paid into the account of the company.
He added that the money came from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) with the signatories to the account identified as two persons – Darbisu and Benjamin.
Shuaibu noted that the said signatories were former staff members of the MEA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, respectively, now working with the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
He told the court that on January 13, 2015, the sum of N400 million was paid from the MEA into the same account of Jointrust.
The witness explained that these monies were paid, whereas investigations revealed that there were no contracts between the ministry and the company to warrant such payment.
Under cross-examination, the defence counsel, Mr Ferdinard Orbih, asked the witness who was the author of the entries in Exhibit Eight and the witness replied that it was the MEA.
Orbih asked: “So you agree that neither of the defendants had any input in making the entries in Exhibit Eight” and the witness replied, “No, they don’t.”
When further quizzed to confirm if there exists in the said exhibit, words like the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the witness said no but explained that the words were abbreviated to read MEA and MFA.
The witness also told the court that he had no knowledge if any of the defendants were employees of any investigation agency of the government.
Mr Orbih also asked the witness if the commission obtained statements from the signatories to Exhibit 16 and the witness’ response was, “Yes, they were invited to our office and their statements taken.”
On whether the said statements were frontloaded or made available to the defence, the witness replied, “I don’t know.”
The defence counsel then said, “I put it to you that the purported statements were not frontloaded to the defendants and not before this court?”
“I don’t know, I am not a lawyer and I am not the one that drafted the charges,” the witness responded.
After listening to the testimony and comments from both counsels, the judge adjourned until Thursday for the continuation of the trial.
In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they were said to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of unlawful acts of stealing and corruption.
In counts eight to 14, they were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
Similarly, in counts 15 to17, Mr Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke said to be at large were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
Besides, the former minister was alleged to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
All offences, according to EFCC, contravene the provisions of Sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
SERAP strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest of opposition leader and activist @YeleSowore by SSS. The Nigerian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release him. Sowore’s unconditional release will be a first step to stop Nigeria’s precipitous human rights slide.
The ruling political elites are allergic to the freedoms they once stood for;Are fearful of the rights they once stood for;Are reneging on the ideas and principles of justice they once fought for and are subscribing to the autocracy they once despised and denounced.
Our democracy is a block of ice floating on warm waters.The sponsored protest and attacks on the @AmnestyNigeria stands condemned.The arrest & detention of @YeleSowore is needless.I join the call for his release #FreeSowore.
The arrest of @YeleSowore is uncharitable, unkind, unecessary, uncalled for, unsustainable, indefensible and regrettable. I condemn this fascistic and Gestapo-like action by the DSS against him and I call for his immediate and unconditional release. #FreeSoworeNow#RevolutionNow
Hmmmm. @AsoRock ought to know that they cannot sustain this unconstitutional habit of repression against #CitizensRights. All these persistent acts of @NGRPresident to shrink the Public Space with rabid level of intolerance for dissension will surely fail.#FreeSoworeNow!
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.
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.
The trial of two former ministers, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode and Mrs Nenadi Usman, on charges of N4.6 billion fraud allegations suffered a setback on Monday.
The trial could not continue today at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos due to the absence of the third witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The counsel for the EFCC, Mr Idris Mohammed, told the court that the witness, who resides outside the court’s jurisdiction, is pregnant and on bed rest as advised by her doctor.
He, therefore, asked the court to grant an adjournment. The defence team did not oppose the application for an adjournment.
Mr Ferdinand Orbih, counsel to the first defendant – Usman, then informed the court of a pending ex parte application which he wanted to move. The court obliged him.
In the application, Mrs Usman is seeking leave of the court to serve a motion on notice on the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, over alleged acts of contempt.
Her counsel told the court that the minister had published a list of looters some weeks ago and had mentioned her as number 19 on the list.
Orbih noted that his client took such act very seriously, claiming it was an attempt to interfere with the proceedings before the court and portray the first defendant as already guilty of the charges before the court.
He, therefore, urged the court to grant the ex parte application enabling the defence to serve the said motion on notice on the minister in Abuja, by substituted means, as personal service may not be feasible.
In a short ruling, Justice Mohammed Aikawa held: “I have perused the application, including the supporting affidavits and I am satisfied that the application ought to be granted.”
“The application is granted save that it should be served on his (the minister) confidential secretary in Abuja,” he added.
The court then adjourned till October 2 for hearing of the motion on notice and for continuation of trial.
Usman is being charged alongside Fani-Kayode, as well as one Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), and a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd.
The EFCC had preferred a 17-count charge of money laundering against the accused persons.
In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.
In counts eight to 14, the accused were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
According to counts 15 to17, Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million, in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
Besides, Fani-Kayode was alleged to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
All offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money laundering (prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
The defendant had all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The trial of two former ministers, Femi Fani-Kayode and Nenadi Usman, did not go on at the Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos on Wednesday due to the absence of the third defendant, Danjuma Yusuf.
The trio are facing trial alongside a company, Joint Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited, on 17 counts of alleged money laundering to the tune of N4.9billion preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The case was scheduled for the continuation of trial today but at the start of proceedings, the counsel to the third defendant, Kevin Nwofo, informed the court of the absence of his client.
Mr Nwofo also told the court that he received a call in the early hours of Tuesday from the wife of the third defendant, who informed him that her husband had slumped in the bathroom while having a shower.
He said the wife had called out neighbours who joined in taking the defendant to the hospital.
The defence counsel also mentioned that the incident occurred in Jere in Kaduna State and he had yet to travel down to get a copy of the hospital diagnosis.
He, however, promised to get details of the diagnosis from the hospital and make same available to the court.
Nwofo then followed this up with a request for an adjournment of the trial.
Other defence counsels supported the request for adjournment and the EFCC prosecutor, Nnaemeka Omewa, had no objections.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa consequently held that he would treat the request as exceptional as all the defendants have always showed up for their trial.
The court then vacated the prior trial dates of May 3 and 4 and adjourned till June 11 and 12 for the continuation of trial at the request of all parties.
Former Media Director for ex-President Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, on Monday, reacted to the Federal Government’s list of alleged looters saying he returns the ‘label’ back to the sender.
Femi Fani-Kayode, in the list of alleged looters released by the Federal Government on Sunday, is alleged to have looted the sum of N866 million but in his reaction, he said described this as a false claim.
“I wish to make it clear that this is nonsensical and utterly shameful, and I hereby reiterate the fact that I am totally innocent of any wrongdoing. I reject the false label of “looter” and I hereby return it to the sender.
“The Federal Government claims that I “looted” N800m from government coffers. This is false. I did not receive, and neither was I ever given one kobo by any government official, government agency or government parastatal during President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure,” he said.
Fani-Kayode, who is also a former Minister, explained that the money given to him was by Director of Finance of the Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Esther Nenadi Usman was solely for the conduct of presidential elections campaign.
“Mrs Usman, who was Minister of Finance during the Obasanjo’s government, was neither a member of Jonathan’s government and neither did she manage, handle or touch any government funds in her capacity as Director of Finance of the Jonathan campaign.
“The money she made available to me came from a private company account which was used to house contributions made to the Jonathan campaign by party supporters after series of fundraising event.
“These were private funds and not public funds and neither can anyone expect us to have run an election in 2015 without any money. You do not run election campaigns with sand but with money,” Fani-Kayode explained.
The prominent lawyer alleged that the Buhari administration’s war against corruption is selective and politically-motivated witch hunt adding that the released list is a violation of Nigeria’s constitution.
“Not only is this a violation of the constitutional provision that says that an accused person is deemed innocent until they are proved guilty by a duly constituted court of law but it is also highly prejudicial to the criminal cases that they are or may be facing.
“This is a crude and sordid attempt to intimidate the judges and influence the outcome of the cases which are before them and also to compel them to give the judgement that the government wants,” he claimed.
Fani-Kayode said it is the trite law that only a court of law can declare a man guilty or declare him a thief or a looter and not Buhari and his government. He questioned if anyone can get a fair trial in a country when the government has already pronounced them guilty before the world?
A third prosecution witness had testified in the trial of a former minister of aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, and three others for allegedly laundering N4.9billion.
The witness, Ms Sheelis Gana, gave her testimony on Thursday before Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Mr Fani-Kayode is standing trial on 17 counts alongside a former minister of finance, Mrs Nenadi Usman, one Danjuma Yusuf, and a company, John Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.
In the charges, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused the defendants of conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering.
Giving her testimony, Ms Gana who is a branch manager with Zenith bank told the judge that Fani-Kayode and one of his co-defendant, Joint Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited, were customers of the bank.
Led in evidence by the EFCC Prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness narrated how Mr Fani-Kayode opened an account with the bank in January 2015 during the build-up to the general elections.
She also took the court through several inflows and outflows which occurred on the account between January and March 2015.
Under cross-examination by one of the defence lawyers, Ferdinand Orbih, the witness told the court that one of the documents submitted by the bank to the EFCC during the course of the agency’s investigations was found to have been doctored by certain officials in her bank.
She disclosed that the anti-graft agency actually discovered the irregularity.
The witness added that apart from the document in question, she did not know whether there were other doctored documents in what the bank sent to the EFCC.
On certain transactions carried out on the accounts of Fani-Kayode and Joint Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited, the bank manager said that though she did not personally handle the transaction, in her judgment, there was nothing unlawful about the transactions and this was why the bank ensured that they were successfully carried out.
On certain withdrawals made from the accounts which exceeded the withdrawal limit of N5million for individuals, the witness could not confirm that Fani-Kayode personally received the monies.
She also testified that the former minister did not complain that his money was missing.
After sitting for over four hours, the court adjourned till Friday, March 2 for further hearing in the matter.
A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has adjourned the criminal trial of Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode on grounds of ill-health.
Mr Fani-Kayode is standing trial alongside a former Finance Minister, Nenadi Usman and two others, Danjuma Yusuf and Joint Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited, on a 17-count charge of alleged fraud of N4.9billion.
Mr Fani-Kayode who was absent in court today (Wednesday) is said to be suffering from a heart-related ailment.
His counsel, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Norrison Quakers told Justice Rilwan Aikawa that he was informed by Mr Fani-Kayode’s wife that her husband had been taken to the hospital.
The counsel promised to obtain the medical report and make same available to the court before the close of work today or tomorrow.
Mr Quakers then sought for an adjournment which was granted without any objections from the other parties in the matter.
The Prosecuting Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo has, however, asked the court to observe Section 396 subsection 4 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 which states that no party will be entitled to more than five adjournments in a particular criminal case.
He urged the court to note that the second defendant, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode has now taken two adjournments in the matter owing to his absence today and tomorrow which was initially slated for the matter.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa, therefore, adjourned to February 28, and March first and second for the continuation of trial.
A former minister of aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, says the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will inflict ‘fire and fury’ on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) when Nigerians go to polls in 2019.
Mr Fani-Kayode said this on Wednesday when he appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today, a day after United States President Donald Trump threatened to unleash ‘fire and fury’ on North Korea.
He explained that with the Supreme Court judgement which ended the leadership tussle in the PDP, the party will go on to reclaim power from the APC.
“Thank God for the rule of law, thank God for the Supreme Court. We are back on course, we have our party back, it’s now left to us to manage the success and ensure that we inflict what I would call ‘fire and fury’ like Donald Trump on the APC in 2019 and I am sure that we will actually do that,” he said.
‘Ruthless And Relentless’ Onslaught
The former minister, who said the PDP is becoming stable and is determined to regain the trust of the people, accused the APC of being responsible for its crisis.
Stressing that the leadership of the party would ensure its members remain united, Fani-Kayode said Nigerians were dissatisfied with the APC.
He said, “I think it’s fairly obvious that the Nigerian people are no longer happy with the APC; the honeymoon is over and now reality has set in and clearly, people want to change the change.”
Fani-Kayode also accused the APC of immorality and condemned what he described as ‘lies’ that the PDP did not develop the country.
“If you see what is happening in the last two years, I think the question of morality or decency should be put to the existing APC government rather than those of us that were in power before. We did a lot in 16 years regardless of the lies they are telling. PDP achieved a lot of things, we have nothing to be ashamed of; we have everything to look forward to,” he said.
‘Get Rid Of The Rot’
On the PDP’s plans to convince Nigerians to vote it back into power in 2019, Fani-Kayode said it would assure citizens that it would be “changing the change” and ending “the rubbish”, which, according to him, has left many Nigerians – majorly from the southern region, disappointed in the last two years.
“The First song they (PDP) will sing is ‘get rid of the rubbish and get rid of the rot’; the second thing will be ‘changing the change’. Let’s get down to specifics, when we ran the 2015 election, President Goodluck Jonathan lost by only two million votes, according to their INEC, not our INEC.
“I believe that probably up to 50% – 60% of the people that voted for the APC in 2015, particularly those in Yorubaland and throughout the south and middle belt are completely and actually shocked by what has happened in the last two years and really wished they had voted the other way.”
Also, he expressed confidence that the PDP’s non-elective convention would be a success.
He said, “Our convention will come on August 12 and I’m sure we’ll do very well and from there, we’ll begin the process of pushing the APC out of power.
“If we could have survived one and a half years of ‘ruthless and relentless’ onslaught from the APC Federal Government and their agents who try to come into our party and hijack the party and come out united and stronger, speaking with one voice and one Chairman, I really don’t think that we will be unable to manage great success that we’ve just had.”
The non-availability of prosecution witnesses stalled the trial of the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mr Fani-Kayode, who was also the Director of Media and Publicity of the campaign team for former President Goodluck Jonathan during the 2015 election, is being prosecuted by the Federal Government over allegation of 26 million Naira fraud allegedly perpetuated during the campaign.
He was alleged to have illegally received 26 million Naira from former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, to organise media campaign for former President Jonathan’s re-election bid.
At a resumed hearing, the EFCC lawyer, Mr Johnson Ojogbane, expressed surprise over the absence of the prosecution witness in court.
He subsequently asked the court for an adjournment to enable him put his house in order.
However, Mr Ojogbane did not adduce any reason before the court as to why the prosecution witness who was to lead evidence against Mr Fani-Kayode was not in court.
In view of the development, Counsel to the former Minister, Mr Ahmed Raji, did not oppose to the application for adjournment.
Justice Tsoho adjourned the case till April 25, 2017 for the prosecution to open its case.
The former spokesman of the campaign organisation of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, has been released from detention after 24 days.
Mr Fani-Kayode’s release was announced in a statement by his spokesman, Jude Ndukwe.
He said the former Aviation Minister was released “after meeting all the conditions of bail that was granted to him by the Federal High Court in Abuja”.
Mr Fani-Kayode was initially held in a detention facility at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission office in Abuja before he was moved to Kuje prison.
“He gives thanks to God for everything and he has asked me to convey his heartfelt appreciation and love to all those that prayed for and encouraged him and his family at this difficult time and indeed throughout this ordeal,” Mr Ndukwe stated.
According to him, Mr Fani-Kayode would now focus on getting the medical attention that he needed.
He also said that Mr Fani-Kayode reiterated his commitment to seeing a better Nigeria.
“He wishes to let all those that have offered him support and that have stood by him throughout this period know that his resolve to help build a better Nigeria and stand up for righteousness and truth remains strong.
“No matter what comes our way we trust the Lord and we believe that we shall prevail,” the statement further read.
This was because he was still in Kuje prison trying to perfect the conditions for his bail granted by a Federal High Court in Abuja on five-count charge of diversion of 26 million naira.
His counsel, Mr Wale Balogun, told the court that he had been in Kuje prisons because he was yet to meet the bail conditions granted him by an Abuja court.
“My lord, the second accused (Fani-Kayode) was kept in custody of the prosecution for 21 days without any word, and finally, arraigned on November 10 before your learned brother, Justice John Tsoho in Abuja, on a five-count charge bordering on 26 million Naira.
“He was subsequently remanded at the Kuje prisons, and in view of this, we are helpless, as his bail conditions have not been perfected in spite of frantic efforts by family and friends,” Balogun said.
Mr Fani-Kayode had been facing a 17-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N4.9 billion before he was re-arrested on Friday, October 21 by operatives of the anti-graft agency.