The investigation into allegations of corruption and money laundering against Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete has taken a new turn with the tracking and grounding of a private jet which was traced to the former minister.
The jet is believed to have been purchased for 57 million dollars in 2011 as part of the alleged proceeds of the $1.3 billion oil deal in which the prospecting rights to the opl 245 block was awarded to a company, Malabu Oil and Gas, which he secretly controlled.
Asset recovery lawyers acting for the Federal Government swooped after the bombardier 6,000 jet touched down at Montréal-Trudeau International airport in Canada.
The seizure was confirmed to Channels TV’s London correspondent on Saturday by Babatunde Olabode Johnson, one of the lawyers involved in Nigeria’s asset recovery cases.
The order for the seizure according to Mr. Johnson was served on the jet’s owner, a company called Tibit Limited, which has until June 9, to file court papers opposing the seizure.
The Supreme Court, sitting in Abuja on Friday, have struck out a money laundering charge brought against the former governorship candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Kwara State, Dele Belgore.
The Apex court allowed the appeal against the ruling of Justice Rilwan Aikawa of Federal High Court, Lagos delivered in November 2018.
Justice Aikawa had dismissed a ‘no case submission’ application made by Belgore and his co-defendant, a former Minister of Planning, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman, in the N450m Money Laundering Charge made against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In dismissing the application, the lower court had held that after a careful study of the prosecution’s case, he had formed an opinion that the defendants had certain explanations to make. The judge then ordered them to open their defence.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, Belgore filed an appeal at the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal. After considering the appeal, the court dismissed it.
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has adjourned the trial of a former speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji to September 30.
Ikuforiji and his former Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi are standing trial on the allegations of laundering N338.8m.
The duo are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 54-count charge.
They, however, pleaded not guilty before Justice Mohammed Liman and were allowed to continue on the bail terms earlier granted them by the previous trial judge.
Without coming out of his chambers, Justice Mohammed Liman ordered the Court Registrar to tell parties in the case that “in view of the directive of the Chief Judge that new trials should not be opened especially because of the impending transfer of judges, the case is adjourned till after vacation”.
The registrar then announced Sept 30 as the next adjourned date.
EFCC Counsel, Ekene Iheanacho, immediately raised a complaint saying that the annual vacation is expected to start in July and the Court could give any date before then but the registrar insisted that this was the directive of the judge.
There are indications that the transfer of judges will be done just before Easter to enable those affected to resume at their new post after the public holiday.
The transfer of this case by Justice Liman also appears to be in clear contravention of the provisions of Section 396 subsection 3 and 4 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which says upon arraignment, the trial of a defendant shall proceed from day to day and where impracticable, no party shall be entitled to an adjournment which shall not exceed 14 working days.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has re-arraigned Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, a lawyer to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, for allegedly laundering the sum of $2million during the 2019 general elections.
He was re-arraigned at the Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday, alongside his younger brother, Erhunse Giwa-Osagie on three counts.
Their re-arraignment follows the transfer of the case file from Justice Nicholas Oweibo to Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke.
In one of the counts, the Giwa-Osagie’s were both alleged to have conspired among themselves on February 12, 2019, to make cash payment of the sum of $2 million (USD), without going through financial institutions.
When the counts were read to the defendants, they both pleaded not guilty. The court then permitted them to continue on the bail earlier granted by the previous judge.
Justice Aneke also fixed Monday, March 9 to rule on Atiku’s lawyers application seeking permission to travel abroad for his medicals.
A Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned hearing in the alleged N1.4billion fraud case filed against President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro.
Usoro is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice Rilwan Aikawa on 10 counts bordering on fraud.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, Justice Aikawa adjourned proceedings till Monday, March 9 after listening to arguments from the anti-graft agency and the defendants lawyer on the availability of certain documents,
Counsel to the NBA President, Offiong O. Offiong told the court that he had sent a subpoena to the EFCC requesting for certain documents which he says are necessary for him to cross examine the prosecution witness and prepare his defence.
In the absence of those documents, the counsel said he could not proceed with the cross examination of the witness.
Meanwhile, the Prosecuting Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo told the court that he was not aware of the subpoena as it was not directed to him or served on him.
After arguments and counter arguments, the EFCC counsel assured the court that he would follow up and make the documents available so that the case can continue speedily.
The trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, as well as former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman, and two others on charges of fraud and money laundering resumed on Tuesday.
The case continued at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, with the cross-examination of the third prosecution witness, Mr Shehu Shuaibu, a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In continuation of his testimony, Shuaibu told Justice Rilwan Aikawa under cross-examination that funds were illegally transferred from the Ministry of External Affairs into a private firm, Joint Trust Dimensions Ltd, without any contract being awarded.
The company is the fourth defendant in the N4.9 billion fraud trial brought by the anti-graft agency against Fani-Kayode and Usman, as well as Yusuf Danjuma who is a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
It is said to be the personal company of the third defendant, Danjuma.
The EFCC had charged the defendants with 17 counts for which they all pleaded not guilty and were subsequently granted bail by the court.
In answer to questions from the first defence counsel, Ferdinand Orbih, the witness told the court on Tuesday that as an investigator with the EFCC, he personally took the statements of the defendants.
The witness also testified that from his findings, there were huge inflows of money from the Ministry of External Affairs to the Account of Joint Trust Dimensions Ltd.
He said that he could find no trace of any contract between the firm and the ministry to warrant the payment of the funds.
Shuaibu, however, agreed with the defence counsel that the cash inflows into the account of Joint Trust was not limited to the ministry, as funds also came in from companies and individuals.
He confirmed “N500 million from Global Scan System Ltd on February 11, 2015; N300 million from Diamond Bank on January 30, 2015; N250 million from Castillo Torres BDC Ltd on February 11, 2015; N100 million from Afri Gate Energy Ltd; and N500 million from Chief Emeka Ofor on March 13, 2015.”
As to whether he was aware that the account was opened for the purpose of receiving donations for campaigns for the 2015 general elections, the witness said he was not sure if the funds were truly donations, as some of those who allegedly donated monies were still being investigated.
The judge, thereafter, adjourned cross examination in the case until February 26.
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 defendants were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
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 in counts 15 to 17.
He was said 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 Federal High Court in Abuja has found Mr Olisa Metuh guilty of money laundering in the sum of N400 million.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, found the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) guilty on Tuesday while delivering judgement in the suit instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The anti-graft agency charged Metuh, who is standing trial alongside his company, Destra investment, with seven counts bordering on criminal diversion of the money received from the office of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Delivering judgement in the case, Justice Abang convicted the former PDP spokesman of Count One of the charges.
“It is my view that Metuh took possession of the N400 million from the office of the NSA without contractual agreement; he is guilty of money laundering and is hereby convicted on Count One.”
Shortly after he was convicted, the trial judged suspended reading the judgment to allow the former PDP spokesman use the gents.
Upon his return to the courtroom, Justice Abang proceeded with his judgement on the second count of the charges which bordered on the criminal conversion of N400 million.
According to him, the evidence before him shows that the money was used to fund activities of the PDP.
The judge added that Metuh also used the money to acquire a property at Banana Island in Lagos.
He explained that this was contrary to the e-payment mandate which stated that the money was meant for security services, whereas Dextra Investment was not a registered security outfit.
Justice Abang insisted that the evidence pointed to the fact that the money was deliberately laundered to brighten the chances of the PDP during the general elections in 2015.
He added that Metuh failed to explain the transfer of N50 million from the N400 million to the joint account of himself and his wife
“It is, therefore, manifestly clear that the defendant converted the money for PDP campaign activities and I find him guilty and is hereby convicted accordingly,” the judge declared.
On Count Three which bordered on concealment of funds, Justice Abang says the e-payment mandate showed that the money was released for security services but was concealed and used for PDP campaign activities and personal use.
“I hereby find him guilty and convicted on Count Three,” he ruled.
The trial judge also delivered judgment on Count Four which was the allegation of illegal disbursement of funds.
He said the Prosecution placed credible evidence before the court which showed some of the unlawful acts of Colonel Sambo Dasuki as the NSA while in office.
Justice Abang held, “The first defendant was desirous of repositioning the PDP and he deployed the funds for that purpose and personal use.”
He noted that the meeting wherein former President Jonathan allegedly authorised the payment was tagged a ‘security meeting’.
But the judge wondered why only the former NSA and top officials of the PDP attended the meeting, yet Metuh claimed the money was disbursed for special national assignment.
But the judge wondered why only the former NSA and top officials of the PDP attended the meeting, yet Metuh claimed the money was disbursed for special national assignment, stressing that the first defendant was not a witness of truth.
He said, “I agree with the prosecution that Metuh’s claims are tissues of lies hurriedly put in place to divert the attention of the court from prying into the disbursement of the N400 million received from the office of the NSA through an under the table agreement.
“It is a case of public funds filtering into private hands for selfish reasons.”
Justice Abang, therefore, held that the N400 million was never released for a special national assignment based on the evidence before him.
“Therefore, I find the first and second defendants guilty on Count Four,” he ruled.
Justice Abang, therefore, held that the N400 million was never released for a special national assignment based on the evidence before him.
He then proceeded to give judgement on Count Seven – transfer of funds to a PDP chieftain, saying he would come back to counts 5 and 6.
On the seventh count of the charges, the trial judge held that the transfer of N27.7 million to Mr Anthony Anenih for a special national assignment directly represented the illicit nature of the fund.
“I have again considered the position of the prosecution and found that the prosecution proved the transfer of N27.7 million to Chief Anthony Anenih, and I hereby find the first and second defendants guilty on Count Seven and are hereby convicted,” he ruled.
Thereafter, Justice Abang said he has considered the arguments of the defendants on Counts Five and Six which deal with making cash transactions above the statutory threshold of N5 million for individuals and N10 million for corporate bodies.
“I agree with the prosecution that the defendants committed the offence by handing over raw cash of $2 million dollars to a Bureau de Change (BDC) operator to change same into naira.
“From the evidence placed before me, the BDC is not even a registered operator. The transaction is, therefore, undocumented and runs contrary to the Anti-Money Laundering Act.”
“I agree with the prosecution that the $2 million and part of the N400 million received from the office of the NSA was used to acquire properties in Lagos,” he added.
According to the trial judge, the transaction as regards Counts Five and Six was clearly in excess of the statutory threshold whether the money belonged to the defendants or not and Metuh failed in his defence to disclose the source of the $2 million.
“I hereby find the first and second defendants guilty on Counts Five and Six,” he held.
After taking all the counts, the court convicted and found the former PDP spokesman guilty of all seven charges levelled against him by the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency accused the former PDP spokesman of money laundering to the tune of N400,000,000.
He was charged alongside his company, Destra investment, with seven counts bordering on criminal diversion of the money received from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Metuh was also said to have been engaged in financial transactions in the sum of $2 million without going through a financial institution, an offence the EFCC said was in violation of a provision of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
During their arraignment in court in January 2016, the defendants, however, pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges.
In one of proceedings, Mr Metuh told the court that the N400 million he was accused of collecting was spent on special national assignment as directed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
See more photos from today’s court proceedings below:
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had earlier filed 12 counts against Mr Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar, Rasky Gbinigie, as well as Malabu Oil and Gas Limited before a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja.
Others listed on the charge sheet are Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited.
The commission had also filed seven counts before a Federal High Court against Mr Adoke and Mr Abubakar.
The charges were filed against the former minister for the role he allegedly played in the controversial Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245, otherwise known as Malabu oil scam.
A Prosecution witness, Fatima Abdullahi, younger sister of Mr Abdulrasheed Maina who is standing trial for money laundering and other offenses has distanced herself from accounts said to have been opened in her name.
Mrs Fatima, a civil servant who is a resident of Kaduna, told the court that she and Maina share the same parents.
She gave evidence behind a screen where her face was only seen by the judge, Justice Okon Abang, while her voice could be heard through the public address system of the court.
In her evidence in chief, the witness said she has never heard of a company called Common Input & Investment Nigeria Ltd.
She gave the narrative of how she found out about the company, sometime in August, 2019 when she tried to withdraw money from an ATM of a commercial bank and it declined and on enquiring from the bank manager, she was handed over to the EFCC for questioning.
She also told the court that it was the EFCC that told her of a company account registered in her name where huge sums of money have been withdrawn.
The witness also told the court that the EFCC showed her a CAC incorporation form of the company where the name ‘Fatima Samaila Abdullahi’ was stated together with her date of birth, but the phone number on the form was not her own.
Adding that the name as stated on the form is not her name, as her full name is ‘Fatima Abdullahi’.
The witness continued her evidence stating that even her signature was not the one on the form, as well as the one on another CAC form for Kangolo Digital and Drew Investment.
Mrs Fatima also denied knowledge of shares bought in her name in the companies, adding that the photograph attached to the documents was a younger version of her before she got married.
Meanwhile, the case has been adjourned to December 16 for cross examination and hearing of the bail variation application filed by Mr Maina.
The Federal High Court in Lagos has rescheduled the arraignment of Lebanese Hamza Koudeih and his accomplice Kayode Philip, alias Voice of the King, accused of money laundering.
Mr Philip and Koudeih are facing 24 counts filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Their arraignment, which was initially scheduled for Monday, November 25, before Justice Muslim Hassan, couldn’t go on as Koudeih’s lawyer, Abdulamid Mohammed, said he was yet to see the charge sheet against his client.
The lawyer, who is based in Abuja, said he was only told on Sunday that the matter would be coming up in Lagos on Monday and he had to rush down.
He said on getting to court on Monday morning, his client told him that the EFCC served the charge sheet on him on Friday and he gave it to his wife who took it home.
Mr Mohammed prayed Justice Hassan to adjourn the case to enable him to study the charge sheet and prepare for his client’s defence, citing Section 36 of the constitution, which provided that an accused must be given adequate time and facility to prepare for his defence.
The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the prayer for an adjournment.
Following arguments between the lawyers, Justice Hassan, in a short ruling, said he would like to exercise caution and adjourn the case for Koudeih’s lawyer to study the 24 counts and the three volumes of proof of evidence filed by the EFCC against the defendant.
He adjourned till Thursday, November 28 for arraignment.
In the first count, the EFCC alleged that Philip and Koudeih conspired to convert aggregate sums of $7.06million and €80,000, “which sums you reasonably ought to have known form part of proceeds of fraud.”
The prosecution said the duo acted contrary to sections 18(a) and 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and were liable to be punished under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
The EFCC had on October 26 arrested Koudeih in his multi-million dollar Victoria Island luxury apartment in Lagos.
The EFCC claimed that Koudeih pays an annual rent of $5million for the apartment in the 33-storey Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower, VI.
The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered that suspected internet fraudster, Ismaila Mustapha, also known as Mompha, be kept in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services.
Justice Mohammed Liman gave the order on Monday after “Mompha” pleaded not guilty to the 14 charges of laundering N33 billion filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The court also fixed November 29 for the hearing of the bail application filed by the defendant.
The anti-graft agency alleged in the charge sheet signed by one of its counsels, Rotimi Oyedepo, that Mompha laundered the funds through a firm which was the second defendant – Ismalob Global Investment Ltd – between 2015 and 2018.
It claimed that the funds, domiciled in a commercial bank, were moved in tranches of N18,059,353,413 and N14,946,773,393.
The EFCC also claimed that both defendants, not being a financial institution or an authorised foreign exchange dealer, negotiated a foreign exchange transaction in the sum of N9.416 million, N20 million, N10,437,400, N10 million, N2.46 million, N10 million, N100 million, N61 million, N100 million, N40.7 million, and N42 million.
The funds were domiciled in the defendants’ commercial bank account.
In one of the counts, the anti-graft agency alleged that Mompha, “Between 2015 and 2018… procured Ismalob Global Investment Ltd to retain the aggregate sum of N18,059,353,413 in its account No. 5260000846 domiciled in Fidelity Bank Plc which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of unlawful act to wit: fraud.”
The first defendant was also alleged to have between 2015 and 2017, aided the company “to retain the aggregate sum of N 14,946,773,393.00 in its account No. 5260000846 domiciled in Fidelity Bank Plc from Pitacalize Ltd.”
Both actions, according to the EFCC, offend Sections 18(3) and 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.2011 (as amended) and are punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.