An Investigating Officer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Mr. Shehu Shuaibu on Friday told a Federal High Court in Lagos how the sum of N1.5 billion was fraudulently transferred from the Ministry of External Affairs account to Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited account, a company which allegedly belonging to a former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode.
Shuaibu disclosed this in the trial of former Minister of Finance, Senator Nenadi Usman, former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, and two others over alleged money laundering and other fraud related offences.
Earlier, in his submission, EFCC Prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo said, “My lord, we are ready to commence trial of the defendants as scheduled and subject to my lord’s convenience, we are ready with our witness.”
Oyedepo further sought the permission of court to retrieve the case documents, which had been with the court as the matter is starting de novo (afresh).
His request was granted and the documents were handed over to him. He called the witness, Shehu Shuaibu who swore to an oath before his testimony.
After identifying the defendants, the prosecutor asked him to tell the court what he knew about them.
The witness stated that his team, from the Special Task Force of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was assigned to investigate a petition, which alleged that the total sum of N1.5 billion was fraudulently transferred from Ministry of External Affairs account to Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited account No 1010740698 with Zenith Bank.
He said “We commenced investigation immediately and wrote a letter of investigation activities to Zenith Bank requesting for a statement of account of Joint Trust and all the transactions in the account”
“We received the response and analysed them. Our findings revealed that on January 8, 13, and 16 ,2015, the sum of N300 million, N400 million, and N800 million respectively were transferred from the Ministry of Affairs research library account, Ministry of External Affairs research project account, and Ministry of External Affairs research capital account respectively into Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited account.
The witness further said that these monies were moved into Femi Fani-Kayode ‘s (second defendant) company account, Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited with Zenith Bank.
He further told the court that on February 4, 2015, the second defendant withdrew N170 million cash, on February 5, 2015, he withdrew N40 million, and on February 9, he withdrew N60 million.
The witness stated that between February 20 to the end of March 2015, the second defendant withdrew N200 million cash, and between Match 20 and 25, he withdrew N250, 650,000.
According to him, on February 12 one Olubode (now at large) made a cash payment for the sum of N24 million to a company, Paste Poster at No 125 Lewis Street, Lagos, and also on February 12, made an additional cash payment for the sum of N60 million to the same company, Paste Poster of No 125 Lewis Street Lagos Island.
Justice Osiagor has adjourned further hearing till March 25.
Fani-Kayode is standing trial alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Yusuf Danjuma, and a company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Ltd.
The EFCC had earlier preferred a 17-count charge of N4.6 billion money laundering against the defendants before the former trial judge, Justice Mohammed Aikawa.
The defendants had each pleaded not guilty to the counts and were granted bail.
Hearing of the case had begun before Justice Aikawa and witnesses were being led in evidence before the trial judge was transferred out of the Lagos division of the court.
The case was subsequently assigned to a new trial judge, Justice Daniel Osaigor, and the defendants had to start the case from the beginning (de novo).
In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015 in Lagos.
They were alleged to have at various times, unlawfully retained over N4.6 billion, which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of unlawful acts of stealing and corruption.
In counts 15 to 17, Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke, who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos.
The said payments were alleged to have been made in excess of amounts allowed by law without going through a financial institution.
The offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.