A Federal High Court in Abuja was on Monday told how $40million was paid to OnePlus Holdings Limited, a firm belonging to Robert Azibaola.
Mr. Azibaola is a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan. He and his wife, Stella are standing trial over alleged receipt of billions of naira from the arms funds from former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
At the resumed trial, the star witness, Ibrahim Mahe, told the court that only Mr. Dasuki could explain why the defendants were awarded $40million pipeline security contract.
Mr. Mahe, who recently retired as permanent secretary, special services operations, at the office of the NSA, however said OnePlus Holdings Limited was paid $40m from $600m special security fund sourced from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Mr. Azibaola and his wife are standing trial on a seven-count criminal charge brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The EFCC is insisting that the duo conspired “to commit an illegal act to wit: money laundering of the sum of $40million transferred to the domiciliary account of One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited with Zenith Bank, Account No. 5070365750 from the account of ONSA with the Central Bank of Nigeria upon a mandate Ref. No. 128/S.5LX/139 purporting to be for the supply of Tactical Communication Kits for Special Services and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(a) of the Money Laundering( Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act”.
During cross-examination by counsel to the defendants, Chris Uche, SAN, the witness said he served only eleven months in ONSA, admitting that while he was there, other firms also got security contracts in excess of the $40m approved for Mr. Azibaola’s firm.
Mr. Mahe, could not however tell the court names of the other firms he said benefitted from the $600m special security fund of the NNPC.
He nevertheless told the court that the ONSA maintained naira, dollar and euro security accounts.
The witness also insisted that the defendants’ firm was credited with the $40m, nine officials in the office of the NSA signed on the payment warrant.
Mr. Mahe, who admitted paying the money, said he was convinced that the firm’s security contract met due process requirements, having been endorsed by nine top officials of ONSA.
He maintained that ONSA was not in the habit of advertising security contracts, saying that certain security contracts were given codenames for security purposes.
Besides, the witness denied being part of any bidding process for the procurement of security gadgets.
He said his responsibility only entailed disbursing monies already approved for security contracts.
The witness had at the last adjourned date told the court that the ex-NSA instructed him to prepare a payment mandate of $40m in favour of OnePlus Limited.
He maintained that it was Mr. Dasuki that endorsed a memo to him with details of the company’s account.
However, the defendants’ lawyer, Uche, SAN, sought an adjournment to enable the defence team cross-examine the second prosecution witness, Olabode Fanilola, who tendered the bank account statement from Zenith Bank Plc.
The trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, subsequently adjourned further hearing on the matter to October 6, 7 and 19.