The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday filed before a Federal High Court in Abuja a fresh evidence of N300m allegedly received by a former Chairman, Board of Trustee of the Peoples Democratic Party, Haliru Bello, from the Office of the National Security Adviser, on February 27, 2015.
The EFCC had on January 5, 2015 arraigned Bello, his son, Abba, and a firm, BAM Project and Properties Limited (owned by Abba), on four counts of money laundering involving a separate sum of N300m security funds which they allegedly received from ONSA last March.
An operative of the EFCC, Rouqayyat Ibrahim, who opened her testimony as the first prosecution witness on February 16, 2016, said on Tuesday that investigation had further revealed that Bello received N300m from ONSA in two tranches of N150m each.
The two N150m transactions, which were said to have been carried out on the same day of February 27, 2015, were not captured in the four counts against the accused persons.
Our correspondent learnt that the EFCC had taken the decision to amend the pending charges and that the defendants would only be made to take a fresh plea after which the case would continue from where it was stopped.
Ibrahim, who was led in evidence by the EFCC’s lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), testified on Monday that the sum of N300m was transferred to BAM Project and Properties Limited from the account of Jabbamer Ada Global Services Limited on the instructions of the then Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda.
According to the witness, before the discovery of the N300m payment, Jabbamer was already being investigated for about N1.5bn it had received from ONSA.
Ibrahim said, “The analysis of the statement of account of BAM Project with Sterling Bank revealed that the account received a total of N300m in two tranches of N150m each on February 27, 2015.
“On that day (February 27, 2015), transfers of N150m and another N150m were made into the account of BAM Projects with Sterling Bank.
“Before then, we were already investigating Jabbamer Ada Global Services Limited in a different matter.
“We discovered that Jabbamer Ada Global Services Limited was a bureau de change firm and that the company received payments of a little over N1.5bn from ONSA. The company also received payments from the Nigerian Air Force and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and several other sources.
“We interviewed the owner of the company and account and he stated that all the deposits I mentioned earlier (into Jabbamer Ada Global Services Limited) were made on the instructions of the former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, and that the disbursement of the funds were on his (Bashir Yuguda’s) instructions, including the transfer of N300m which he made to BAM.”
“He (Yuguda) is currently standing trial in court in respect of the same matter. Effectively, the complaint against the defendants is with respect to N600m. They (the defendants) said they used it for the 2015 election of the PDP.”
The trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, on Monday, admitted as exhibits the account of the ONSA with the Central Bank of Nigeria and other documents.
The case was adjourned till March 3 for the cross-examination of the witness by the defence lawyers – Mr. Solomon Umoh (SAN) for Abba; Mr. Ogala Osoka for BAM Projects and Properties Limited and Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), for Bello.
Ibrahim had, on February 16 while opening her evidence, given details of how Bello, his son, and BAM Project and Properties allegedly shared the initial N300m security funds for election campaign activities of the PDP.
The prosecutor alleged that instead of using the money to provide “safe houses” – the purpose for which it was released to them by ONSA- the accused persons used the money to foot personal bills and shared the money to some corporate bodies for the campaign activities of the PDP.
Ibrahim testified that the N300m was part of the N30bn released to the ONSA’s account with the Central Bank of Nigeria on March 11, 2015.
The witness said the N300m was transferred into BAM Project and Properties Limited’s account on March 17, 2015, six days after ONSA received the sum of N30bn in its account with the CBN.
She said, “One of the discoveries we made after receiving documents from the ONSA was a letter written by the Ministry of Finance to the CBN requesting for N100bn on March 2, 2015 for several expenditures. But specifically, N30bn of that N100bn was for the ONSA for security issues.
“Then on March 3, 2015, the Accountant-General of the Federation wrote to the Ministry of Finance in respect of N30bn for ONSA and another N31bn for another matter entirely.
“On March 6, 2015, the Accountant-General of the Federation wrote to the CBN authorising the release of the N30bn which was paid into ONSA account in the CBN on March 11, 2015.
“Then on March 17, 2015, N300m from the money paid into ONSA account, was paid into the bank account of Bam Project and Properties Limited (the second defendant) with Sterling Bank.
“The narration on the mandate for the payment, was payment for ‘safe houses’.”
The operative, who is also an analyst in the Accounting and Forensic Unit of the EFCC, said she was a member of the task force set up by the commission to investigate arms contracts and alleged financial misappropriation in the Office of the National Security Adviser.
Ibrahim, whose testimony was cut short by an adjournment of the case, detailed how the N300m paid into the account of BAM Project and Properties Limited from ONSA, and other sums of money paid into the company’s account from other sources were disbursed.