(News investigators) Investigating Officer, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Mr. Shehu Shuaibu has told a Federal High Court in Lagos that the sum of N4.6 billion allegedly transferred into a joint trust account was used to finance the presidential campaign of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
The witness further disclosed that the money was paid from the State House to the account of the Ministry of External Affairs before it was transferred into the Joint Trust account.
The IPO disclosed this information while testifying before Justice Daniel Osiagor in the trial of former Minister of Finance, Senator Nenadi Usman, former aviation minister Femi Fani-Kayode, and two others over alleged money laundering and other fraud-related offences.
Under cross-examination, by counsel to the former finance minister, Mr Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), the witness stated that his team from the Special Task Force of the EFCC did not invite Jonathan throughout their investigations.
The witness admitted that the first Defendant, Nenadi Usman, was the Director of Finance, of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Campaign Organisation, while the second Defendant, Fani-Kayode, was the Director, of Media and Publicity of the organisation.
Asked why he did not invite Jonathan to confirm or deny if the money paid into the Joint Trust account was expended for his campaign or not, he said, “No, we did not invite him, since the President was not the one that expended the money.”
When asked why those that transferred money into the Joint Trust account were arrested and prosecuted, he said, “To the best of my knowledge, I do not know whether those that transferred money into the Joint Trust Account were charged to court or not. I am not a lawyer, and would not know why they have not been charged before the court.”
He however admitted that the money was paid by the Permanent Secretary of the State House, Nebolisa Emodi, who was invited for Interrogation by his team but not charged to court.
When asked to name those who stole the money for which the defendants are standing trial, the witness said he did not investigate the defendants for stealing, and so he would not know if they stole the money or not.
When the witness was confronted with a Certified True Copy of the Proceedings before Justice Rilwanu Aikawa, who was handling the case before he was transferred out of Lagos, where the witness had earlier stated that the money was stolen, he backtracked.
“I did not investigate any stolen money, and I never used the word stolen, what I said was that the money was fraudulently transferred,” the witness added.
Justice Osiagor thereafter adjourned the matter till tomorrow, Friday for the continuation of trial.
Fani-Kayode is standing trial alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman; a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Yusuf Danjuma; and a company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Ltd.
The defendants are facing 17 counts bordering on conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering.
Fani-Kayode, who was the Director of Publicity of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign organisation for the 2015 election, was accused of conspiring with the others to, directly and indirectly; retain various sums which the EFCC claimed they ought to have reasonably known were proceeds of crime.
They had each pleaded not guilty to the counts and were granted bail by the court.
The trial began in 2017 with the defendants being arraigned and re-arraigned before Justices Muslim Hassan and Rilwan Aikawa.
Following the transfer of the last trial judge, Justice Aikawa out of the Lagos division of the court, the case was subsequently assigned to a new trial judge, Justice Daniel Osaigor, and the defendants had to start the case from the beginning (de novo).
In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015 in Lagos.
They were alleged to have at various times, unlawfully retained over N4.9billion, which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of unlawful acts of stealing and corruption.
In counts 15 to 17, Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke, who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos.
The said payments were alleged to have been made in excess of amounts allowed by law without going through a financial institution.
The 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.