N3.9bn Fraud: Witness Reveals How $1m Was Recovered in ex-Air Force Chief, Badeh’s Wardrobe
Alex S. Badeh, former Nigeria Chief of Air Staff
An operative of Nigeria anti-corruption agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Anna Awe Akuson, who is a witness in the N3.9billion fraud trial involving Alex S. Badeh, former Nigeria Chief of Air Staff, on Wednesday told Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja how a search conducted on a property allegedly belonging to defendant led to the recovery of $1million (One Million US Dollars) suspected to be proceeds of illicit deals.
Akuson, who testified as PW20, said that the money was found in a wardrobe at the upper apartment of the building located at No. 6 Ogun River Street, Off Danube Street, Maitama, Abuja.
Led in evidence by Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, counsel to the EFCC, Akuson said:
“I am a cameraman working with the EFCC. On February 24, 2016, I was assigned to go on a search with some operatives. The team leader told me the properties (we were to search) belong to Alex Badeh.
“On reaching the place, I started my recording from outside. In the master bedroom (upstairs), we found a travelling bag covered with a pillow-case in the wardrobe. We opened the travelling bag and found US dollars inside. We brought the bag down and the money was counted.
“After the search, we returned to the office and I copied the visual from my camera to a hard drive, after which I burned it to a DVD disc”.
Thereafter, the prosecution sought to tender the certificate of identification and the DVD disc of the recording, but its admissibility was strongly objected to by Badeh’s counsel, Akin Olujimi, SAN.
While relying on Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, Olujimi argued, “I am for the first time seeing these documents in court now that the Registrar handed them over to me.
“There is no doubt that the prosecutor did not include these two documents in the information he filed before this court. That means we have been deprived of the rights of an accused person by the law. These two documents ought to have accompanied the information which the court has”.
Responding, Jacobs argued that the documents had been made available to the defence when the EFCC’s investigating officer (who testified as PW19) gave his evidence. However, he offered to avail the defence counsel copies of the documents.
Olujimi further applied that the next date of hearing, which is March 1, 2018 be vacated to enable the defence study the documents and prepare their defence.
Consequently, Justice Abang adjourned to March 14, 2018 for continuation of trial.
Badeh is facing trial alongside Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, on a 10-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N3.9billion.
He, among other things, allegedly between January and December, 2013, used dollar equivalent of the sum of N1.4billion (One Billion, Four Hundred Million Naira) removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force to purchase a mansion situated at No. 6, Ogun River Street, Off Danube Street, Maitama, Abuja.
Court Adjourns Ex-PDP Chair, Haliru’s Trial to April 11; Grants Ex-NNPC GMD, Yakubu Leave to Travel for Medical
Justice A. R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court has adjourned to April 11, 2018 for ruling on the admissibility of bank statements tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, through its witness, Chidi Eboigbe in the corruption trial of former national Chariman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Haliru Bello and his son, Bello Abba Mohammed.
Eboigbe, a compliance officer with Eco Bank who was led in evidence by Oluwaleke Atolagbe, counsel to the EFCC, said he had a responsibility to act as a liaison to law enforcement agencies as well as bank regulators.
The PW7 told the court that he received a request from EFCC to furnish the Commission with some documents regarding the account of Kumugomo Ltd which included account opening documents, statement of account, certificate of identification and covering letter bearing official letter-head of Eco Bank.
The prosecution, thereafter, sought to tender the document in evidence.
However, Bello’s counsel, Solomon Umoh, SAN, objected to the admissibility of the documents on the ground that they were not frontloaded and that he never had the opportunity to see the documents before they were tendered.
He urged to discountenance the documents and mark it ‘rejected’.
Other counsel in the matter aligned themselves with his argument and submission.
Responding, Atolagbe said though the covering letter and the certificate of identification were not contained in the frontloaded documents, he however argued that the prosecution under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) has the duty to furnish the defendant with facilities that would help its case. He cited Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 to support his argument.
Atolagbe further argued “that it is on record that the statement of account sought to be tendered and the account opening documents were duly frontloaded and by frontloading the account statement and account opening package Section 36 (6b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) has been duly complied with”.
He said the certificate of identification was just to comply with the provisions of the Evidence Act, adding that “the covering letter does not go to the substance of the case against defendant”.
He submitted that all the Sections mentioned in the practice direction had all been complied with.
After heated argument, Justice Mohammed adjourned for ruling.
Haliru Bello, his son, Bello Abba Mohammed and their Company, Bam Project and Properties Ltd are facing trial on a four-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N300million, which they allegedly collected from the Office of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) .
In a related development, Justice Mohammed also adjourned to May 10, 2018 for continuation of the corruption trial involving Andrew Yakubu, former Group Managing Director, GMD, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
The adjournment is to enable the defendant travel for medical treatment.
Yakubu’s counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN, had through an application dated February 26, 2018 sought leave of the court for the defendant to travel to the United Kingdom for a period of eight weeks for medical treatment and prayed for the release of his international passport.
The judge granted the application as Ben Ikani, representing the prosecution, raised no objection.
Yakubu, is facing trial on a six-count charge, bordering on money laundering and false declaration of assets
Trouble started on February 3, 2017 when operatives of the EFCC stormed a building belonging to the former NNPC boss and recovered a staggering sum of $9,772,000 (Nine Million, Seven Hundred and Seventy Two Thousand United States Dollars) and £74,000 (Seventy Four Thousand Pound Sterling) stashed in fire proof safe.