A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Bashir Mohammed, on Wednesday told the Federal High Court in Lagos that he delivered $140,000 to someone at the Obasanjo Library in Ogun State but does not know the person’s name.
Mr Mohammed said this at the resumed hearing of the money laundering case instituted by the EFCC against Abdulahi Babalele, the son-in-law of a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.
The statement contradicted his claim on Tuesday that he delivered the money to former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
Mr Mohammed spoke before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke during cross-examination by defence counsel Mike Ozhekome who directed the witness to read from the statement he made to the EFCC on March 11.
The part of the statement read, ” I collected the dollars cash from Dan Asabe and I called Abdulahi and he told me to take the money to Ogun State to Obasanjo’s library.
“When I got to the library, I met a man who asked if I am Bashir and I said yes. He asked where is the message from Abdulahi and I gave him the money. I don’t know the name of the person I gave the money but I can identify the office.”
Mr Ozhekome, addressing the court, said the defence had established from the portion of extrajudicial statements it asked the witness to read that they are contradictory to his witness in court yesterday.
“Yesterday you said you gave Obasanjo $140,000 personally in his house but in this your statement today, you wrote that you gave the money to a man in the library that you don’t even know his name.
“You told the court yesterday that you changed N50,400,000 that was transferred to you but in your statement, we have seen N53 million and N52.5million that was transferred to you.”
The defence sought to readmit the statement of the witness as evidence, stating that it had complied with the requirements said to be lacking in a ruling delivered by Justice Aneke at the beginning of proceedings.
Justice Aneke had stated that “the defence ought to have laid enough foundation for the admissibility of the evidence before seeking to tender it. So, the objection of the prosecution is upheld. The court advises the defence to lay a proper foundation before seeking to admit it in evidence.”
In objection, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the court had already ruled on the admissibility of the document. He said trying to readmit the same document amounts to relitigation of an already determined matter.
He also said the witness had identified different statements made to the EFCC but the defence was only seeking to tender one while withholding others.
Responding, Mr Ozhekome said the prosecution cannot instruct the defence on how to conduct its case. He also said the defence chose to tender the statement because it directly mentioned the defendant, adding that other statements had nothing to do with the defendant or his case.
Mr Ozhekome tendered five of the statements identified by the witness.
However, Mr Oyedepo insisted that the statement of the witness taken on August 9 be tendered also, claiming it explained all the discrepancies in the other statements.
In objection, Mr Ozhekome said the defence had not read the statement and had only been working with the five statements duly identified by the witness.
Justice Aneke adjourned the case till January 29 and 30 and February 12 and 13 next year for ruling on the admissibility of the sixth statement of Mr Mohammed, the continuation of cross-examination and trial.
EFCC had opened its case yesterday against Mr Babalele and had called its first witness.
Mr Babalele is facing a two-count charge of money laundering to the tune of $140,000.
He was said to have committed the offence during the 2019 general elections in which his father-in-law, Atiku Abubakar, was the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
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