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Alleged $40m contract scam: Court decides fate of Jonathan’s cousin, wife, March 29

….to rule of defendants’ no-case-submission

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA – The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, fixed March 29 to decide the merit of an application seeking to quash the nine-court criminal charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, Mr. Robert Azibaola and his wife, Stella.

Robert Azibaola and his wife

The duo who are facing trial alongside their company, One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited, are praying the court to discharge and acquit them, insisting they have no case to answer over allegation that they received $40million contract from the detained former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki, retd.

In a no case-submission they filed through their lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, the defendants, maintained that EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie case capable of warranting the trial court to compel them to open their defence to the allegation.

They contended that the anti-graft agency was unable to by way of credibile evidence, establish a nexus between them and the alleged $40m contract scam.

Besides, they argued that both oral and documentary evidence the EFCC adduced against them, were manifestly unreliable that no reasonable court or tribunal could rely on it to make a conviction.

However, EFCC, through its lawyer, Mr. F. A. Jibo, maintained that the defendants have a criminal case to answer.

EFCC said it had successfully made out a case that would warrant the defendants to be called upon to open their defence to the charge against them.

It argued that the proof of evidence before the court was sufficient to warrant an explanation from the defendants regarding individual roles they played in the alleged $40m contract scam.

Consequently, EFCC, urged the court to dismiss the no-case-submission and order the defendants to open their defence to the charge.

After he had listened to both parties, trial Justice Nnamdi Dimgba adjourned his ruling on the matter.

It will be recalled that EFCC closed its case against the defendants after it called a total of 10 witnesses that testified in the matter.

Specifically, EFCC, alleged that the defendants conspired “to commit an illegal act to wit: money laundering of the sum of $40million transferred to the domiciliary account of One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited with Zenith Bank, Account No. 5070365750 from the account of ONSA with the Central Bank of Nigeria upon a mandate Ref. No. 128/S.5LX/139 purporting to be for the supply of Tactical Communication Kits for Special Services and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(a) of the Money Laundering( Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act”.

Justice Dimgba had earlier granted Aziboala and his wife bail to the tune of N1billion.

They were directed to deposit N500million each, as well as to produce two sureties in the like sum.

The court held that the sureties must be owners of landed properties in either Maitama or Asokoro Ditrsicts of Abuja and must produce evidence that they paid income tax for the past three years.

Azibaola was docked after he had spent 80 days in custody of the EFCC.

Charges against the defendants attract punishment varying from 7 to 14 years imprisonment upon conviction.

One of the charge against the defendants read: “That you Azibaola Robert being the Managing Director / Chief Executive Officer and a signatory to the Zenith Bank account of One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Stella Azibaola Robert, being a director and a signatory to the account of One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited and Amobi Ogum( now at large) on or about 8th September, 2014 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire among yourselves to commit an illegal act to wit: money laundering of the sum of $40million transferred to the domiciliary account of One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited with Zenith Bank, Account No. 5070365750 from the account of ONSA with the Central Bank of Nigeria upon a mandate Ref. No. 128/S.5LX/139 purporting to be for the supply of Tactical Communication Kits for Special Services and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(a) of the Money Laundering( Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act”.


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