The trial of a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman, and three 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.
He began evidence since November 2019, and is now being cross-examined by defence counsel.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) 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 (ALGON).
Also charged is a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nig. Ltd.
The EFCC preferred a 17-count charge of N4.6 billion money laundering against them.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail.
On Tuesday, their trial resumed before Justice Rilwan Aikawa with defence counsel, Chief Ferdinard 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 the 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.”
The witness further said that although there was a column to be filled by the maker of a statement, such a column can be filled by another who recorded the statement on her behalf, in situations where such the suspect could not do so.
Orbih then asked the witness if it was correct as he earlier said, under cross-examination, that the first defendant asserted in her statement to have known that the funds came from government.
The witness replied that although the witness earlier said that the money was not from the expected source, she, however, later discovered that the fund was from the permanent secretary of the state house, one Mr Emordi.
Defence counsel asked: “Will I be right to say that the first defendant told you that the inflows into the account of Jointtrust on January 8, 13 and 15, 2015, came from Emordi?”
The witness replied,”No.”
The witness also said he could not remember if the first defendant had stated that she was informed by the permanent secretary that he had some campaign contributions to make.
Defence counsel told the witness that from the statement of account of Kointtrust Dimension, there were inflows to show that funds also came in from companies and individuals.
The witness replied that there were inflows from companies, individuals, government as well as Nuban overhead account.
The witness confirmed the following inflows: N500 million from Global Scan System Ltd. on Feb.11, 2015; N300 million from Diamond Bank on Jan. 30, 2015, and N250 million from Castillo Torres BDC Ltd. on Feb. 11, 2015.
He also confirmed N100 million from Afri Gate Energy Ltd., and N500 million from Chief Emeka Ofor on March 13, 2015.
He, however, said that he was not sure if they were truly donations, as some of alleged donated monies were still under investigation.
Defence counsel then asked the witness: “Since 2015, how many of those who made inflows into this account have you charged to court?”
The witness replied: “It is not my duty to charge anyone, I am just an investigator.”
Defence counsel added: “Did you say you found that government money was stolen and paid into Jointtrust dimension?”
The witness replied in the affirmative.
Orbih consequently asked the witness, “Who then stole this government money?”
The witness replied, “They conspired to transfer the money from government account into Jointtrust, without executing any contract.”
Orbih asked the witness, “when a car is involved in an accident, do you leave the driver of the car and charge the conductor?”
The witness replied, “My lord, I am not a lawyer.”
The question and the response generated laughter from the audience in the courtroom.
Cross-examination of Shuaibu will continue on Thursday.
In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences from January 2015 to March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which formed part of the proceeds of stealing and corruption.
In counts eight to 14, the defendants were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million.
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, in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
Besides, Fani-Kayode was alleged to have made payments to Paste Poster Co. of No. 125, Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of the amount allowed by law.
The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012. (NAN)