By Soni Daniel
Ibrahim Yazidu, a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Bello Haliru, yesterday, gave further insight into how the former PDP chieftain got N300 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA account through his company,BAM Projects and Properties Limited.
Yazidu, who was cross-examined by Haliru’s counsel, Kanu Agabi, SAN, told the court that, although there were funds in the office of the National Security Adviser that he could use at his discretion, they still had to follow the compliance rules.
“Although, the ‘Public Procurement Act’ exempts issues of the national security, most of the issues to be exempted are classified matters”, he said.
Yazidu had earlier in his examination -in-chief told the court that he was instructed through a piece of paper to prepare payment mandate for BAM for N300 million. He stated that the piece of paper had account name, account number, amount and reason for payment (Payment for Safe Houses).
The witness, while being re-examined by Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, counsel to the EFCC, was asked to explain the ambiguity in his statement in relation to his claim that he was given a piece of paper to prepare payment without documents to back the transaction, but he was objected by Solomon Umoh, SAN, counsel to the first defendant, (Bello Abba Mohammed), who urged the court not to see the question as a trap but the truth in his peculiar knowledge of what he knows.
Yazidu had also told the court that there were procedures of making payments which included presentation of documents and approval of the documents as well as instructions to be received from the Director of Finance.
According to him, documents to be presented included contract documents, contract agreements, signature of the contractor and voucher. He said, when the documents are presented, he prepares the payment mandate which he passes to the NSA and DFA for signing, before taking it to the bank for payment.
Under cross-examination, he maintained that he was not aware if any contract existed between the defendant and ONSA and was not in a position to know why the payments were made.
Jacobs, relying on Section 215 (3) of the Evidence Act 2011, swiftly countered the defense adding that, the requirement for re-examination has been so liberalized under the Section to show contradictions or ambiguity. He said the witness has the right to contradict and explain himself. He urged the court to discountenance the argument.
Jacobs’ objection generated a sort of argument between the two counsel, but the judge ruled that the witness be allowed to explain the ambiguity adding that, if the witness brings in new matters, the defense has the right to cross examine him on the new matter.
Yazidu, while explaining the ambiguity maintained that he was given a piece of paper containing the account name, bank and account number and the reason for payment was not stated.
The case has been adjourned to March 7 – 8, 2017 for continuation of trial.
Haliru, his son, Bello Abba Mohammed and their Company, Bam Project and Properties Limited are being tried on a 4-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N300 million which they allegedly collected from the office of the former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
One of the charges reads:
“That you, Bello Abba Mohammed, BAM Projects and Properties Limited and Dr. Haliru Bello on or about March 17, 2015 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court took possession of the sum of N300 million paid into the account of BAM Projects and Properties Limited with Sterling Bank Plc from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser with the CBN when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd), the then National Security Adviser( to wit: criminal breach of trust and corruption) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section (15) (3) of the same Act”.