By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
A star witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Alhaji Sani Dauda, yesterday narrated before the Federal High Court in Abuja how he refused to give $20,000.00 bribe to the Acting Chairman of the anti-graft agency, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
Alhaji Dauda, who is the chairman of ASD Group of Companies and a board member, Peugeot Automobile Ltd, is the sixth prosecution witness, PW-6, in the criminal proceeding the EFCC initiated against the former Senator for Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani.
EFCC is prosecuting the erstwhile lawmaker on a charge bordering on bribery, name-dropping, influence-peddling and allegation that he obtained $25, 000. 00 from Alhaji Daudu.
He was alleged to have collected the money from Daudu under the false pretence that it would be used to bribe Magu, so as to shield the witness from investigation and prosecution.
According to EFCC, the Defendant also used false pretence and collected $15, 000 from the witness under the guise that the Chief Justice of Nigeria approved that the money should be given to four judges and the prosecutor, for them to hands off his case and that of his enstranged in-law, one Abubakar Musa.
At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, Alhaji Daudu who continued his Evidence-in-Chief, told the court that aside an initial $15, 000. 00 Senator Sani collected from him as part of the deal, he subsequently requested for another $20, 000. 00 to settle the Acting EFCC boss, Magu.
The PW-6, whose evidence was in Hausa language but translated to English, told the court that Sani had after he collected the $15, 000. 00 in an envelope on November 20, 2019, returned to inform him that the prosecutor said he would not partake in the deal except Magu intervened.
He said the Defendant then told him not to worry that Magu was his friend.
“He called someone on phone and told me that the person was Magu. He told me that Magu said I should give him $20, 000. 00. I told him that I could not afford that. But he kept pushing me that if I don’t do it, there will be problem,’’ the witness said.
The witness told the court that Sani had after he collected the initial money, switched off his phone and made himself unreachable.
He added: “He switched off his phone. I kept calling his phone but it was not going through so I sent him a text three times and he did not reply. That was when I told myself that this man has cheated me.
“I then went to a friend who took me to the CJN. And the CJN denied that he knew the Defendant or sent him to me. The name of that my friend is Mutalah. The CJN then did a press release that he doesn’t know anything about the matter. Since then, I did not see Shehu Sani and he did not call me.”
The witness said it was while he was on his way back to the country after the lesser Hajj that he encountered Magu.
“When I was returning, my wife and Magu entered the same flight. That was on a Sunday and as we were talking, I told him what happened. Magu told me to report at their office, which I did and they asked me to come back on Monday.
“On Monday, I went there. I was narrating what happened in Hausa and my son, Mohammed was interpreting. When I was writing the statement that Monday, Shehu Sani called that he did not know that I was back to the country.
“He told me that he has collected the money back from the people and would have brought it if he knew I was back. When I returned from EFCC, Shehu sani called me that he was coming and I told him that I was not at home. He came to my office and asked us to go inside.
“When we were inside, he was seated on a chair, he then came and held me by the neck and was begging me that I should help him, that I know that he is a politician. My mother knows him. He begged me that I know that I am his godfather.
“But when I was leaving the EFCC, they told me to make sure that I record my conversations with Shehu Sani. So everything he told me that day, he did not know that I recorded it. Around 10:30 in the morning, he brought the money to my house. When he brought it, he said this is your money $25,000.
“I was very happy and came out to tell people that Shehu Sani has brought back my money. I then reminded him that EFCC said he should report by 9am and he should immediately go there. From then, I did not hear anything again from him till he came to meet me in Kaduna with Dr. Ibrahim, who he said is his brother. He told me that Ibrahim knew everything about the case.
“Ibrahim then asked me what I wrote in my statement to EFCC. I told them to wait so I can call my son, Mohammed who I told them helped me to write the statement. Ibrahim, who is elder brother to Shehu, now asked if I wrote that the money was going to be given to judges. That it is what his brother told him.
“He told me I should do everything within my ability to change that statement since I was the one that made it. Even the one I recorded. Then Ibrahim said he knew one Shinkafi who is a friend to Magu and that he would come the next Sunday.
“That Sunday, I was in my farm when they called me that Shehu Sani has come. When I met him, he told me that Shinkafi said I should write a letter of withdrawal and he would take it to Magu.
“I told him that I will not do that, since I was the one that reported the case. He said if I agree, he will tell me what to tell the prosecutor to stop the case. After then, EFCC collected my two phones. They later kept back my Samsung and gave me back my Iphone but the $25,000 is still with EFCC.”
Meanwhile, under cross-examination by Sani’s lawyer, Mr. Abdul Ibrahim, the witness said he was aware that giving of bribe was an offence under the Nigerian law.
He queried: “You did not give bribe to Shehu Sani to give CJN in this case?, the witness replied, “Shehu Sani didn’t tell me that it was a bribe.”
Asked if he knew the Defendant as either a staff of the Supreme Court or that of EFCC, the witness said: “I don’t know, after all he is a Senator.”
The witness further admitted to the court that he was the one that took the $25, 000 to EFCC and not the Defendant.
He said: “It was when he returned it that I took it to EFCC. When I went to EFCC, they asked me to return the money but I said I would not because it is my money. But they insisted that he cheated me and I should bring the money to them. So I took the money to them”.
Asked if in other words, he was compelled by EFCC to bring the money, the witness said: “It was not by force, but it was because they said it is an exhibit.”
He said EFCC did not recover the money from Sani, adding that: “He was the one that brought it to me.”
Asked if he had gone to any law enforcement agency to report that Sani came to dupe him, the witness said: “That’s why I went to EFCC. If I go to police, will I still go to EFCC?”
Asked if he was given marked money to give to Sani, the witness replied in the negative, saying he did not also go to police or ICPC to report the matter.
“When someone came as a brother, I did not have any reason to think he wanted to cheat me. It was when I could not get him on phone that I suspected foul play.”
Asked if anybody was there when he gave Sani the $25, 000. 00, the witness said: “They saw him when he entered my office and left with the envelope.
“But when he collected the money, there was nobody there and when he returned it, there was nobody there too.”
Meanwhile, trial Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned further hearing on the matter till Wednesday, even as EFCC, through its lawyer, Abdul Mohammed, disclosed that it would call five more witnesses.