The re-trial of the former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, on allegations of laundering N338.8 million continued on Wednesday at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ekene Iheanacho, continued with the testimony of the first prosecution witness, Adebayo Adeniyi, who is an investigative officer with the agency.
Adeniyi told the court that some cash account registers of some banks which had been admitted in exhibit were recovered from the Lagos State House of Assembly.
According to him, they showed that the second defendant, Atoyebi, collected money several times, above the financial threshold allowed by the Money Laundering Act.
Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Dele Adesina, the witness told the court that the former speaker did not collect the cash directly from the Treasury Department of the House, but had admitted during an investigation that all the money collected by Oyebode was done on his behalf and with his approval.
At the instance of the defence counsel, Justice Mohammed Liman adjourned until December 9, for the continuation of the cross-examination.
The retrial of the former speaker and his aide commenced on September 30 and they both pleaded not guilty to the allegations of laundering about N338 million.
Justice Mohammed Liman then allowed both men to continue on an earlier bail granted to them in 2012 when they were first arraigned.
The defendants were first arraigned on March 1, 2012, before Justice Okechukwu Okeke on 20 charges bordering on misappropriation and money laundering.
Following a re-assignment of the case, the defendants were subsequently re-arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba.
Justice Buba granted them bail in the sum of N500 million each with sureties in like sum.
He later discharged the defendants on September 26, 2014, after upholding their “no case submission applications”.
The judge had held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie case against them.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC filed a Notice of Appeal dated September 30, 2014, to challenge the decision of the trial court.
It argued that the trial court erred in law when it held that the counts were incompetent because they were filed under Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 which was repealed by an Act of 2011.
The anti-graft agency added that the lower court erred in law when it held that the provisions of Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and 2011, only applied to natural persons and corporate bodies other than the Government.
It also submitted that the trial judge erred in law when he held and concluded that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses supported the innocence of the respondents.
In its judgement in November 2016, the Lagos Division of the Appeal Court agreed with the EFCC and ordered a fresh trial of the defendants before another judge.
Following the decision of the appeal court, the defendants headed to the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the ruling of the appellate court.
In its verdict in December 2017, the apex court upheld the decision of the appellate court and ordered that the case be sent back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment to another judge.
This necessitated the current re-arraignment and re-trial before Justice Liman.
The trial of the Former Speaker of Lagos, Adeyemi Ikuforiji has been reopened at the Federal High Court in Lagos with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) calling its first witness.
Ikuforiji is standing trial alongside his former Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi on 54 counts of laundering about N338.8million.
They had both pleaded not guilty at their re-arraignment before Justice Mohammed Liman and were allowed to continue on an earlier bail granted to them in 2012 when they were first arraigned.
At the proceedings on Wednesday, Counsel for the EFCC, Ekele Ihenacho, called the first prosecution witness, Mr Adebayo Adeniyi, an investigator with the EFCC.
The witness told the court that in June 2011, a petition was written against the first defendant, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, for allegedly siphoning N500million monthly from the Lagos House of Assembly.
The witness further testified that the EFCC investigated these claim by visiting the Office of the Clerk of the Lagos State House of Assembly. There, they recovered some documents which were instrumental to their investigation, while the clerk was invited to the Commission.
“We recovered some payment register and when we went through them, we discovered that a lot of cash payments were made to the second defendant, Atoyebi, and we invited him to explain why the payments were made to him
“He told us that the payments were meant for the first defendant, and when we interrogated the first defendant, he actually confirmed that the second defendant was collecting the monies for him,” he said
The EFCC prosecutor then showed the witness a bulk of document and asked him to identify them.
The witness identified pages one to 12 of the document as being the statement of the first defendant, pages 13 to 24 as the statement of the second defendant, while pages 25 to 237 as other documents recovered from the clerk’s office.
Without any objections from the Defence counsel, Mr Dele Adesina (SAN), the prosecutor tendered the documents before the court.
Justice Mohammed Liman admitted all the documents in evidence with the assurance that the court will take its time to sort them out .
When prompted on the findings from the documents, the witness testified that the EFCC discovered that series of cash payments were made to the second defendant, which were above the threshold allowed by the Money Laundering Act.
Reading from the documents admitted by the court as exhibits, the witness pointed out portions of such payments which includes cash sums of N3 million, N10m N1.7m all collected by the second defendant on behalf of the first.
“On April 27, 2010, N10 million was collected in cash by the second defendant, while on May 6, 2010, the cash sum of N1.7 million was also collected by the second defendant on behalf of the first,” he said
Justice Liman, however, queried this pattern of testimony by the prosecution, on the grounds that it was not the duty of the witness to “speak” to the documents in the manner being done.
The judge noted that such manner of examination was only wasting the time of the court, since the prosecution would also speak on same document during addresses.
He urged parties to make progress in the case, which he said had spanned a period of almost 10 years since 2011.
After listening to the court, the prosecutor asked for an adjournment to enable him do some arrangements of the documents for the ease of the court.
The defence counsel had no objections to the request for an adjournment and Justice Liman subsequently fixed Oct. 14 for continuation of trial.
The defendants were first arraigned on March 1, 2012 before Justice Okechukwu Okeke on 20 counts bordering on misappropriation and money laundering.
They had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.
Following are-assignment of the case, the defendants were, subsequently re-arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba.
Justice Buba granted them bail in the sum of N500 million each with sureties in like sun
On September 26, 2014, Justice Buba discharged the defendants after upholding their no case submission applications.
The judge had held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie case against them.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC through its counsel, Mr Godwin Obla (SAN), filed the Notice of Appeal dated Sept. 30, 2014 challenging the decision of the trial court.
Obla had argued that the trial court erred in law when it held that the counts were incompetent because they were filed under Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 which was repealed by an Act of 2011.
The EFCC further argued that the lower court erred in law when it held that the provisions of Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and 2011, only applied to natural persons and corporate bodies other than the Government.
The commission had also submitted that the trial judge erred in law when he held and concluded that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses supported the innocence of the respondents.
In its judgement, the Lagos Division of the Appeal Court, in November 2016, agreed with the EFCC and ordered a fresh trial of the defendants before another judge.
Following the decision of the Appeal Court, the defendants headed to the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the ruling of the Appellate court.
In its verdict, in December 2017, the apex court upheld the decision of the appellate court and ordered that the case be sent back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment to another judge.
This necessitated the re-arraignment before Justice Liman.
In the charge, the EFCC alleged that the defendants accepted cash payments above the threshold set by the Money Laundering Act, without going through a financial institution.
The commission also accused the defendants of conspiring to commit an illegal act of accepting cash payments in the aggregate sum of N338.8 million from the House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.
Ikuforiji was also accused of using his position to misappropriate funds belonging to the Assembly.
The EFCC said that the defendants committed the offences between April 2010 and July 2011.
The offences, according to the EFCC, contravene the provisions of Sections 15 (1d), 16(1d) and 18 of Money Laundering Act, 2004 and 2011.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday, re-arraigned Malabu Oil & Gas Limited, Aliyu Abubakar and six others before Justice I.E. Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on 67 amended charges, bordering on money laundering to the tune of $875,740,000.
According to a statement by the Head, Media & Publicity, EFCC, Dele Oyewale, the other six defendants are Group Construction Company Limited; Rocky Top Resources Limited; Megatech Engineering Limited; Novel Properties and Development Company Limited, Imperial Union Limited and Carlin International Nigeria Limited.
The suit marked: FHC/CR/268/2016, which initially had nine counts, was filed in 2016.
A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has sentenced two Lebanese to two years in prison each over $890,000 found in their possession.
The duo – Chamseddine Waell Mohammed and Dina Jihad Khali were said to have attempted to smuggle the foreign currency out of the country before they were arrested by the Nigerian Customs Service and handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In a statement issued on Thursday by EFCC Head, Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, the anti-graft agency secured their conviction before Justice I. M. Sani of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.
According to the statement, the Lebanese pleaded guilty to separate one count charge of money laundering preferred against them by the agency.
The offences run contrary to Section 2 (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 2 (5) of the same Act.
At the court hearing, EFCC prosecuting Counsel, Aso Larrys Peters tendered some documents, which included a letter of invitation by Customs and statements of the defendants, as exhibits.
Similarly, a police officer and EFCC witness, Macaulay Olayinka, while being led in evidence by prosecution counsel, said the money recovered from the suspects had been deposited with the Rivers branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria for safe keeping.
“The said amount was found inside their Luggage on board a chartered flight with registration number 9HVFF to Lebanon.
“They were apprehended by the Nigeria Custom Service, Area One Command, Port Harcourt and handed over to the Port Harcourt Zonal office of the EFCC on August 12, 2020 for further investigation.
“The Convicts, Khali with Passport Number LR152975 (Republic of Lebanon) was arrested with $670,000 while Mohammed with Passport Number LR0356598 (Republic of Lebanon) had in his possession the sum of $220,000,” he said.
Thereafter, Peter urged the Court to sentence the defendants.
However, Counsel to the defendants, Paul Ejiga begged the court to temper justice with mercy as the defendants were first time offenders who have no previous criminal record.
Subsequently, Justice Sani sentenced the defendants to two years imprisonment with an option of fine of N1million each.
The judge also ordered the “undeclared amount” to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In the former seven counts, the EFCC alleged that the defendants committed the money laundering offences involving over N400 million in Abuja, in September 2013.
In the counts relating to Mr Adoke, he was accused of among others, receiving the dollar equivalent of N300 million from Abubakar, paying the dollar equivalent of N367,318,800 to one Usman Mohammed Bello, and allegedly using the sum of N300 million, which was alleged to be part of the proceeds of unlawful activities, all in violations of various provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.
He was also accused of making “structured cash payments, in 22 tranches” amounting to N80 million, another of such structured payments in 13 tranches summing up to N50 million into his Unity Bank account.
The commission alleged that the funds were not only part of the proceeds of unlawful acts but they also exceeded “thresholds outside a financial institution,” and that the payments were done with the intention of concealing the origins of the funds contrary to Section 15(2(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same law.
The former AGF was granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja on February 10, 2020, in the sum of N50m with one surety in like sum.
Zimbabwean police are investigating the country’s top mobile telephone operator Econet Wireless for suspected money laundering, according to a search warrant issued Friday.
Police want the telecommunications giant to disclose its customers’ details and records of all transactions conducted within the first half of 2020 as a stand-off between the government and the company mounts.
In a dramatic move, the government last month abruptly suspended mobile money transactions provided by telephone operators, the most widely used platform to make and receive payments in the crisis-ridden country.
The services continued for daily individual transactions but were capped for merchant transactions.
Information Ministry Permanent Secretary Nick Mangwana blamed mobile money transfer platforms for galloping inflation, and said that the government was in “possession of impeccable intelligence” that telephone service providers were involved in illicit activities that were sabotaging the country’s economy.
The government also suspended all trade on the country’s stock exchange, which it accused of being complicit in illicit financial activities.
In Friday’s search warrant, police specialist investigator Mkhululi Nyoni said he had “reasonable grounds to suspect that Econet Wireless… is involved in money laundering activities”.
Police said there is information that the firm has fraudulently created fake subscribers to transfer mobile money to other accounts, to be converted to cash.
“The runners would in turn buy foreign currency in the black market before being externalised (abroad),” said the warrant.
The company, which has some 10.5 million customers, was ordered to surrender all the requested documents within seven days.
Econet’s spokesman Fungai Mandiveyi declined to comment.
Mobile money payments account for most electronic payment transactions in the country, which is critically short of bank notes.
Zimbabwe is being buffeted by its worst economic crisis in over a decade, including scarcity of basics like fuel and cornmeal.
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.