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Tuesday, 29 October 2019

N4.6bn laundering: Ministry paid firm N800m without contract – Witness

N4.6bn laundering: Ministry paid firm N800m without contract – Witness

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday heard that in 2015, the Ministry of External Affairs paid N800 million into the account of a firm, Jointrust Dimension Ltd without a contract.

A prosecution witness, Mr Shehu Shuaibu, stated this at the resumed trial of former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode and others facing N4.6 billion money laundering charge.

Fani-Kayode’s co-defendants are a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenandi Usman, Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).

Jointrust Dimension Ltd is the fourth defendant.

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) preferred a 17-count charge against the defendants.

They each pleaded not guilty and were released on bail.

The EFCC opened its case and Shuaibu is the third prosecution witness.

During examination in chief by prosecution counsel Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness told Justice Rilwan Aikawa his findings while investigation the allegations against the defendants.

He said investigations revealed that the N800 million was paid into Jointrust Dimension Ltd’s account on January 16, 2015

The witness said the money came from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), adding that the signatories to the account were one Darbisu and Benjamin, both former staff of the Ministry, but employees of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

He further testified that on January 13, 2015, N400 million was paid by the Ministry into the same Jointrust account.

Shuaibu averred that investigations revealed that there were no contracts between the Ministry and the company to warrant such payment.

During cross examination, defence counsel Mr Ferdinard Orbih (SAN) asked the witness who was the author of the entries in exhibit Eight and the witness replied that it was the Ministry.

Orbih asked: “So you agree that neither of the defendants had any input in making the entries in exhibit eight”.

“No. they don’t”, the witness answered.

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When further quizzed to confirm if there exists in the said exhibit, words like Ministry of External Affairs and

Ministry of Foreign Affairs , the witness replied: “No”.

He explained that the words were abbreviated to read MEA and MFA.

The judge adjourned further proceedings till October 31.

In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.

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