Alleged Money Laundering: Court Admits Allison-Madueke’s Beneficiaries List

Malabu Oil: Court Adjourns Ruling On Order Of Forfeiture Till March 13The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, has admitted in evidence, the list of beneficiaries of a sum to the tune of $115,010,000 from the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The list contained names of individuals from the 36 states of the Federation who allegedly benefitted from the sum during the run-up to the 2015 general elections.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa In his ruling, agreed with the arguments of counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Oyedepo, and held that the prosecution has complied substantially with the provisions of section 84 of the Evidence Act.

Justice Aikawa added that the fact that the document was produced by a computer through an email address of a staff in the course of carrying out an official assignment, does not in any way invalidate the tendering of the list of beneficiaries before the court.

According to the judge, “What the Evidence Act intends to do is to simplify and not to complicate the process of admitting documents in court.

“Any officer of the financial institution is competent to tender the document even if he is not the maker of the said document.

“The document and its attachment are one and same is admissible and can be tendered by the PW1.”

However, shortly after the ruling, Belgore’s counsel, Ebun Sofunde (SAN), commenced the cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, Timothy Olaobaju, who confirmed before the court that he volunteered a statement to the EFCC on January 9, 2017 wherein the witness stated that he did not mention Alison-Madueke in his statement to the anti-graft agency.

However, as Olaobaju was about to give further explanations as to why Alison-Madueke’s name was not mentioned in his statement, the defence lawyers promptly interjected and insisted that the further explanation was not needed.

Justice Aikawa was then urged by Shofunde to adjourn the matter so as to enable the prosecution produce the said statement made by the witness.

Consequently, the judge adjourned until May 2, 2017 for the EFCC to make available the said statement.

It would be recalled that the EFFC had notified Justice Aikawa that Alison-Madueke had questions to answer in the ongoing trial of Belgore, and the former Minister of National Planning, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman, over their involvement in scam to the tune of 450 million Naira.

Specifically, Belgore’s counsel, Ebun Shofunde (SAN) had during proceedings, insisted before the judge that the list sought to be tendered emanated from the mail box of the maker.

He called the attention of Justice Aikawa to Section 84 of the Evidence Act, which according to the SAN, governs documents made from computers.

According to Shofunde, “the document sought to be tendered, has not met with the conditions made out in Section 84 of the Evidence Act.

In his objection, counsel to the anti-graft agency argued that there is a certificate attached to the document sought to be tendered to authenticate same.

The EFCC lawyer said, “The document was identified by the witness as the list containing names of beneficiaries, and the transactions carried out by the financial institution.

“It is not the spirit of Section 84 (2) of the Evidence Act, that the certifying officer who is merely to confirm the functionality or otherwise of the devices used in printing out the document so as to come and give evidence.

“Substantially, we have complied with provisions of Section 84 of the Evidence Act.

“The certifying officer had confirmed that the document was printed in the ordinary course of business of the financial institution.

“He also certified that the list was produced by the computer owned by the financial institution.

“Throughout the period the document was printed, the computer used in printing the document was functioning properly.

“There is no contrary evidence to controvert this certification. The witness can validly tender the document he has identified forms part of the transactions.

“It is an exception that a document must be tendered by its maker where the document emanates.”

Prior to this time, the EFCC lawyer had sought the leave of Justice Aikawa to reopen the evidence in chief of its witness, Timothy Olaobaju, so as to further examine him on the document.

While being led in evidence, Olaobaju insisted that the sum was offloaded to the loading bay for the beneficiaries to take possession.

According to the witness, “the money was counted by way of bundle counting, and they were in N1000 and N500 denominations.

“The money was kept overnight with the financial institution and in the vaults.

“That very day, before the beneficiaries came, we had already stacked the money for them to pick.

“But there was a delay because the minister refused to show his identity card.

“The beneficiaries said they could not carry the money that night because it was late.

“It is not true that none of the beneficiaries collected a dime.”

Belgore and Sulaiman were re-arraigned on an amended five counts, wherein the name of the former Petroleum Minister was clearly mentioned.

According to the amended charge, on or about March 27, 2015, Alison-Madueke was accused of conspiring with Belgore and Sulaiman to directly take possession of the sum of N450 million, which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful act.

They were equally said to have taken the said funds in cash, which exceeded the amount authorized by law, without going through any financial institution.

Belgore and the former Minister of National Planning were accused of paying a sum to the tune of 50 million Naira to one Sheriff Shagaya, without going through financial institutions.

The Commission however insisted that the offences contravene sections 18 (a)15 (2) (d), 1 (a), 16 (d) and punishable under sections 15 (3) and 4, 16 (2) (b), and 16 (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.

Shortly after the plea of the defendants were taken, the witness brought by the EFCC, Olaobaju, argued that sometime in April 2014, his Managing Director gave them directives that certain individuals and companies would be sending money into some account, and that the purpose of such monies was not made known.

The witness further told Justice Aikawa that over the period, the monies which amounted to $115,010, million USD, were paid into the account.

Olaobaju who is a banker, also contended before the court that in March 27, 2015, an instruction came from the former Petroleum Minister to the bank that the monies which were in USD be converted to Naira and that same should be paid to some beneficiaries which included Belgore (SAN) and Prof. Sulaiman.

While confirming that the instructions were fully complied with, the banker insisted that both Belgore (SAN) and Sulaiman, who are not customers to the bank, received the sum of 450 million Naira and filled the receipt of payment form to acknowledge receipt.

The court then admitted the form filled by the defendants as exhibits 1 and 1a.

Further testifying, Olaobaju informed Justice Aikawa that no cheque was issued in effecting the release of the said sum, adding that the defendants signed the form on March 26, 2015 and collected the money on March 27, 2015.

Counsels to the defendants which included: B. O. Shofunde, Charles Edosanwa, Seni Adio, and lawyer to Sulaiman, Chief O. Ayanlaja, Ladi Rotimi-Williams, and Olatunde Busari, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), however pleaded with the court for adjournment for the cross-examination of the witness.

Subsequently, Justice Aikawa adjourned the case till May 2, 2017 for the EFCC to make available the said statement.

EFCC To Cleanse Electoral System, Arriagns 100 INEC Officials

efccIn efforts to cleanse the electoral system, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), has begun the arraignment of over 100 electoral officials.

According to reports, the commission is set to charge officials who had received bribes from the $115 million, allegedly disbursed by Diezani-Madueke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, during the countdown to the 2015 general elections.

The acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu and the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, would be meeting in Abuja to finalize the charges that would be filed against the suspects.

This was revealed through a statement by the Media Coordinator, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, (CACOL), Wale Salami.

In reaction to the trial, CACOL has asserted that electoral crimes serve as precursors for corruption in governance.

Executive Chairman of the Coalition, Mr Debo Adeniran, commented on the happenings saying, “from these reports, it can be easily deduced that Nigeria’s democracy is regularly put up for auction to the highest bidder”.

He added that, “any electoral official that perpetrates political corruption, which usually leads to the throwing up of corrupt government are culpable in helping looters to the corridors of power.

“They easily put up the mandate of the people up for sale. For years, Nigerians have remained victims of bad leadership which has a strong linkage to failures and corrupt practices perpetrated by electoral officials mostly during elections.

“We commend the EFCC for not leaving any stone unturned in their investigations, while also calling for the prosecution of Diezani-Madueke, and every other electoral officials that took the bribe.

“In the same vein, we are urging the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, to begin a review of the electoral commission in order to come up with ingenious protocols to forestall or eradicate any corrupt tendencies in subsequent elections.

“If we do not cleanse our government and electoral process from corrupt elements, then our government would inevitably become a den for thieves.”

He concluded by stating that: “the anti-graft agency and the electoral commission should continue to publish the names of all officials who received bribes so that Nigerians can identify them as the dishonest lot who sold the peoples’ mandate to the highest bidder.

“We call on the government to cleanse the electoral system to forestall corruption in governance,” Adeniran said.

EFCC Arrests Former Petroleum Minister’s Husband, Alison Madueke

Alison MaduekeAn anti-graft agency in Nigeria has arrested Rear Admiral Alison Madueke, the husband of the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Rear Admiral Madueke was arrested on Wednesday morning in Abuja by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

A source at the EFCC confirmed the arrest of the husband of the former Minister, saying he was quizzed for several hours for allegedly laundering over $600,000 through his personal accounts.

Although he has been released on administrative bail, the EFCC said he would return on Wednesday for more questioning.

Last year, Mrs Alison-Madueke was invited for questioning by the metropolitan police to answer questions bordering on alleged money laundering.

She had left Nigeria after the current administration took over power in May 2015.

Rear Admiral Madueke’s arrest is the latest in the series of arrests that have been made by the anti-graft agency since the anti-corruption war heightened after the current administration took over office.

 

I Am Not Surprised At Alison-Madueke’s Travails – Oshiomhole

Oshiomhole Not Surprised At Alison-Madueke's TravailsEdo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, on Wednesday said he is not surprised at what is happening to former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, with the Metro Police in the United Kingdom (UK).

Governor Oshiomhole made this known in a session with State House correspondents in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said despite the media hype by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan that it re-based the economy, he did not see anybody that said average Nigerians did better under the Jonathan administration.

The immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources was arrested along with four other persons in relation to corruption allegations being investigated by the UK National Crime Agency.

Under her watch the then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, alleged missing funds in the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC), amounting to 20 billion dollars.

It was alleged earlier in the year that the former Petroleum Minister, who was one of the closest to the administration of former President Jonathan, would flee the country, to avoid being prosecuted over allegations of fraud, especially in the NNPC.

Mrs Alison-Madueke, at the time, denied seeking asylum in any part of the world, stating that the Jonathan administration had done a lot in the Oil and Gas industry that cannot be rubbished by malicious claims.