A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Nicholas Ashinze, a former aide to ex-National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, on Tuesday told the Federal High Court, Abuja, how Mr. Ashinze and others got N5.6 billion from the Office of National Security Adviser.
Hassan Seidu, the first witness who is an EFCC operative, said he was part of the team that conducted search in Mr. Ashinze’s house, located at No 67 Vision Court Estate Apo Abuja.
Mr. Ashinze, a retired colonel, is standing trial along with an Austrian, Wolfgang Reinl, Edidiong Idiong and Sagir Mohammed, on a 13-count charge of corruption and money laundering to the tune of N36.8 billion.
Other defendants in the case are five companies – Geonel Integrated Services Limited, Unity Continental Nigeria Limited, Helpline Organisation, Vibrant Resource Limited and Sologic Integrated Service Limited.
The witness said that on December 23, 2015, Mr. Ashinze was brought to their office for interview and after the interview he was asked if he would be able to respond to allegations of money laundering levelled against him.
He said after accepting, Mr. Ashinze’s statement was recorded, but it was his colleague, Mohammed Goje, who administered the precautionary word to him where he signed and voluntarily wrote his statement.
Mr. Seidu further said that following Mr. Ashinze’s statement, they conducted a search at his house at Apo where some items were recovered.
When the prosecuting counsel, Ofem Uket, sought to tender the search warrant as evidence, the move was objected to by the defence.
L.S. Nwoye, counsel to Mr. Ashinze objected to the admissibility of the document, saying it had no date.
Mr. Nwoye sited Section 147 of Administrative of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which stated that a document must have date on it for identification.
He said even though the search warrant emanated from a magistrate, it was not addressed to anybody and the name of the magistrate was not written.
The court said issues raised are omissions of details. Justice Gabriel Kolawale admitted the search warrant in evidence as exhibit two.
He also admitted items recovered which are one black diary, one blue notebook and one page of unsigned document, written in red ink dated 17 April 2014 in evidence as exhibit 2a, b and c respectively.
The witness also said the one page of unsigned document written in red ink (exhibit 2c) contained list of 5 companies, their banks and account numbers of each of the company with amount that has been transferred to them.
He said they got analysis of it and found out that N3.125 billion was transferred to the account of Geonel Integrated Services (5th defendant) with Heritage Enterprise Bank from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
“N120 million was transferred to Unity Continental Nigeria Limited (6th defendant) on April 22, 2014, and N150 million in favour of Law Partners and Associates with Zenith Bank on April 22, 2014.
“N500 million was also transferred from Geonel with Heritage Enterprise Bank to Helpline account (7th defendant) on April 24, 2014 and N100million was transferred from Heritage Enterprise to GTB account of Vibrant Resources Ltd (8th defendant) on April 23, 2014.
“On April 23, 2014, Sologic Integrated (9th defendant) got N120million from Geonel’s account at Heritage Enterprise, and Law Partners also received N450million another payment which is not in the document on May 5, 2014.
“The N450 million was transferred from Geonel’s account domiciled in Heritage Enterprise and it was the only transaction not captured in the document,” Mr. Seidu said.
The witness further stated that they found out that the document (exhibit 2c) was prepared three days after N3.125 billion was given value in the account of Geonel Integrated Service Limited.
He said they also found out that N2.5 billion was transferred from CBN to Geonel’s account on Feb 16, 2015, and the contract was awarded from ONSA to Geonel Integrated Services.
He said the N3.125 billion was for a purported contract given to Geonel as mobilisation fee in securing 22 dams in Nigeria and the N2.5 billion was for full and final payment of the purported contract.
When asked by the prosecution the relationship of the defendants to the companies, the witness said Unity Continental Nigeria Ltd was owned by Sagir Mohammed (4th defendant) who is a course mate and friend to Mr. Dasuki.
“Law Partners and Associate belong to Barrister Edidiong the 3rd defendant who is a friend and associate to Dasuki.
“Helpline Organisation is owned by Bello Fadile, who was formerly second in command to Dasuki.
“Vibrant Resources belongs to Abubakar Dasuki, junior brother to Dasuki and Sologic Integrated Services Nig. Ltd belongs to Bello Ibiyemi Abayomi, son of Bello Fadile,” he said.
Mr. Seidu said after execution of the search on Dec. 29 2015, “we asked Ashinze if he would make statement in relation to the items recovered from his house, he accepted and we recorded it.”
The prosecution applied to tender the defendant’s statement in evidence.
Mr. Nwoye, however, objected to admissibility of the statement based on Section 6 of ACJA which demands voluntary giving of statement.
He argued that Section 17 (1) and (2) requires presence of lawyer before statement can be taken and that the EFCC investigators did not counsel him on the need to keep silent.
Mr. Nwoye insisted that the witness did not at any time inform the 1st defendant of his right to bring his lawyer before making statement.
The prosecution said Mr. Ashinze was not compelled to write statement in EFCC’s office rather he voluntarily wrote it.
Justice Kolawale after hearing the arguments, adjourned till March 21 for ruling on admissibility of the statement and continuation of examination of the witness.