$2M Money Laundering:Witness Admits Delivering $140,000 To Ex-President Obasanjo In Ota

Wooden gavel with justice scales and books on white background

 

 

Story bY Gbenga Ogunbufunmi

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission opened its case on Tuesday against Abdullahi Babalele the son-in-law to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who was accused of laundering $140,000 in the build-up to the 2019 general elections.

At today’s trial before Justice Chukujekwu Joseph  Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos with the testimony of one Bashir Mohammed, who is said to be a close friend of Babalele.

Mohammed, who was led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, narrated to the court how he delivered the naira equivalent of $140,000 cash to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Babalele’s instructions.

Obasanjo endorsed Atiku, who was the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, ahead of this year’s general elections, but Atiku lost the election to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress.

Mohammed said he got a phone call from Babalele sometime in February 2019, requesting him to deliver a message to “an elder statesman.”

He said on Babalele’s request he supplied two bank accounts, which were credited.

The witness said he took the money to Obasanjo’s residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

“When I got there, somebody came and took me inside where I met former President Obasanjo and delivered the message,” Mohammed said.

Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mohammed confirmed that he wrote a statement at the EFCC office during investigation.

Ozekhome’s bid to tender the statement as an exhibited was, however, opposed by the prosecutor, consequent upon the prosecution opposition and submission on the matter, Justice Aneke adjourned further hearing till tomorrow for ruling on the admissibility of the witness statement.

The EFCC had arraigned Babalele, Atiku’s son-in-law for laundering $140, 000 USD with the aide of one Bashir Mohammed, while Barrister Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, a partner in Africa Legal Practice (ALP) alongside his brother, Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, were arraigned for laundering the sum of $2 million.

The three defendants were arraigned before the court on two separate charges of money laundering.

The offences according to the prosecution are contrary to sections 18(c), 18(a), 1(a), 16(1), (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16, 16(2)(b)16(2)(b) of the same Act.

All the three defendants were however, were granted bail on Thursday, in the the sum of N20 million with one surety each, after their counsel, who includes Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) for Babalele and Mr. Raji Ahmed and Mr. Norrison Quakers, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), for the Osagie brothers, have argued their clients’ bail applications.

In the charge against Babalele, the EFCC alleged that Atiku’s son-in-law had on February 20, 2019, procured and aided one Bashir Mohammed to make cash payment of the sum of $140,000 USD, without going through financial institution.

While EFCC had alleged that Osagie’s brothers have on February 12, 2019, aided each other and made cash payment of $2 million USD, without going through the financial institutions.

Meanwhile, Justice Oweibo has adjourned the trial of the criminal charge against the defendants till October 8, 2019.

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