Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Money Laundering: Court Adjourns Trial Of Nenadi Usman, Until Wednesday

The trial of a former Minister of State for Finance in Nigeria, Nenadi Usman, and others resumed before a Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday with cross-examination of a prosecution witness, Mr Shehu Shuaibu.
Shuaibu is the third witness for the prosecution that had commenced evidence since November 2019 and is now being cross-examined by the defence. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission charged Usman alongside a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, and Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, in a 17-count charge of N4.6bn money laundering case.
Also charged is a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd.They had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bails. On Tuesday, trial resumed before Justice Rilwan Aikawa with first defence counsel, Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), cross-examining the witness. Orbih asked the witness if he personally took the statements of any of the defendants and the witness replied in the affirmative. When defence counsel insisted that there was no column in the statement of first defendant showing that her statement was recorded by the witness, he replied, “I wrote the cautionary word and I can show the court my handwriting.” Witness further explained that although there was a column to be filled by the maker of a statement, such column can be filled by another, who records the statement on her behalf in situations where such defendant cannot do so. Orbih then asked the witness if it was correct as he had earlier stated under cross-examination that the first defendant asserted in her statement to have known that the funds came from government.Though the witness earlier said that the monies was not from the expected source, she later discovered that the funds were from the Permanent Secretary of the State House, one Engr Emordi.In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8bn which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.
In counts eight to 14, the defendants were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970m, which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
Meanwhile 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 N30m, in excess of the amount allowed by law without going through a financial institution.
Besides, Fani-Kayode allegedly made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law. All 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.
The case was adjourned until February 26 and 27 for continuation.

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