Usman Zakari, a witness in the ongoing trial of a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Olajumoke Akinjide, on Friday told Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, how Ms. Akinjide and others received N650 million in the build-up to the 2015 general election.
Ms. Akinjide alongside Ayo Adeseun and a Peoples Democratic (PDP) stalwart, Olanrewaju Otiti, were re-arraigned on January 16 on an amended 24-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N650 million.
They were alleged to have received the money from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general election.
The money was part of the $115 million allegedly disbursed by Mrs. Alison- Madueke to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.
In his testimony at Friday’s sitting, Mr. Zakari, who is an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told the court how the commission had received what he described as “classified category A intelligence report’’ against the defendants in a case of money laundering to the tune of N650m late 2014.
He further told the court that there was a meeting, sometime in 2015, at the residence of Mrs. Alison-Madueke, in which the managing director of a new generation bank and some oil marketers were in attendance.
Mr. Zakari also told the court that it was during the meeting that Mrs. Alison-Madueke informed the bank chief that some oil marketers and other individuals would lodge some foreign currencies in his bank on her behalf.
“Upon receipt of the intelligence report against the defendants, information was sent to the Special Taskforce Team 4, where I head, for analysis and further investigation.
“We then sent letters of investigation activities and letters of invitation to the banks and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Secretariat in Oyo State.
“The letters of invitation was also extended to the defendants,” he added.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness also told the court that in the course of investigations, it was discovered that Allison-Madueke, three oil marketers and some individuals held a meeting on December 2014, adding that “after the meeting, Alison-Madueke told the bank executive that three oil companies would pay some dollars to his bank.
“The companies are: Acuts Intergrated Limited, which paid $17.8m; Northern Belt Oil/Gas Company, which paid $60m; Med-western Oil Services Limited, which paid $9.5m dollars and one A. Williams, who paid $1.8m.”
The witness said his findings showed that three oil marketers and individuals paid $89 million, while the aides to Alison-Madueke made available $25 million in suite cases, totalling $115 million, which he said were housed in the bank.
“Alison-Madueke, on March 26, 2015, ordered the bank to convert the said $115 million, which was equivalent to N23 billion – the bank complied.
“After the conversion, she directed the bank to pay the sum of N650 million to the 1st and 2nd defendant and one Yinka Taiwo through her son, Ogbonna Madueke.
“Findings revealed that the first and second defendants and one Yinka Taiwo went to one of the bank branches in Oyo and signed the receipt for the payment of N650 million. They took the money to the residence of the 1st defendant and made the payment of N650 million, without following any financial institution,” he added.
The defence team led by Bolaji Ayorinde, objected to the evidence of the witness on the grounds that he did not attend the meeting between Mrs. Alison-Madueke, oil marketers and the individuals.
They told the court that the evidence of the witness did not relate to the charge against the defendants, adding that it was unconstitutional.
“He can only give evidence of taking possession of N650 million not $115m because it was not mentioned in the charge against the defendants, ” they said.
Mr. Ayorinde prayed the court not to use the evidence by the witness to form part of court records ‘‘because all his evidence was hear-say rather than direct evidence.’’
In his response, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the evidence of the PW2 was the finding of his investigation, which could not amount to hear-say.
“My Lord, a charge against the defendants cannot be bad because the charge did not contain all the particulars given as evidence by the witness,” he added.
Mr. Oyedepo, therefore, prayed the court to admit the evidence of the witness.
Justice Hassan adjourned the case to March 23 and April 9 for continuation of hearing