By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA
The trial of the former Senator for Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, resumed before the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, played an audio recording it said nailed the defendant to the $25, 000 bribery allegation against him.
Though the anti-graft agency, had through its 10th witness, PW-10, Mr Bako Aliyu, tendered two audio recordings in evidence against the defendant, however, only one of them was played before trial Justice Inyang Ekwo on Monday.
The evidence contained an audio conversation that lasted about 20 minutes, which EFCC said was between the former Senator and the nominal complainant in the matter, Alhaji Sani Dauda.
The conversation was in Hausa language, even though counsel to the EFCC, Mr Ekele Iheanacho, told the court that the second tape contained the English translation.
An attempt by the prosecution counsel to play the English version of the said conversation between the defendant and Alhaji Dauda failed due to technical hitches.
The former lawmaker is answering to a two-count charge bordering on bribery, name-dropping and influence-peddling.
He was accused of fraudulently obtaining the sum of $25, 000. 00 from the Chairman of ASD Group of Companies and board member, Peugeot Automobile Ltd, Alhaji Dauda.
EFCC alleged that the defendant collected the money from Dauda under the false pretence that it would be used to bribe its suspended Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, so as to shield him from investigation and prosecution.
According to the prosecution, the erstwhile lawmaker equally used false pretence and collected $15, 000 from Dauda under the guise that the Chief Justice of Nigeria approved that the money should be given to four judges and a prosecutor, for them to hands-off his case and that of his estranged inlaw, one Abubakar Musa.
Senator Sani had since denied the allegations, even as he pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Trial Justice Ekwo had on October 21, 2020, admitted the $25, 000 cash and two Samsung phones, in evidence.
At the resumed proceedings on Monday, the witness, Aliyu, who is an operative of the EFCC, told the court that the investigation revealed that there was evidence of a financial transaction between the former Senator and the complainant, Alhaji Dauda.
He tendered in evidence, a proforma invoice that ASD motors issued for the purchase of a Peugeot car valued at N17.5 million.
The witness told the court that the invoice as part of several documents that were found when the residence of the defendant was searched while the investigation was ongoing.
He said the former EFCC Chairman, Magu, who was interviewed during the investigation, denied demanding any money from the defendant.
While being cross-examined by counsel to the defendant, Mr Abdul Ibrahim, SAN, the witness, said it was the complainant himself that handed over the $25,000 to the EFCC.
The defence lawyer further queried the witness to confirm if the N17.5m was not in relation to a transaction for the purchase of a car since the complainant is a car dealer.
Responding, the witness, insisted that there was no evidence of payment for a vehicle, for which the proforma invoice of N17.5m was raised.
He told the court that the EFCC began the investigation after it received an oral complaint from Alhaji Dauda.
The PW-10 said he was not aware of the complainant has any pending case with either the EFCC or the CJN to warrant the $25, 000 bribe to the defendant.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter till Tuesday for further cross-examination of the witness.