The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 presented its first witness, Rouqayya Ibrahim, an operative of the Commission in the ongoing trial of Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed, former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Mohammed, one time minister of defence is being prosecuted alongside his son, Bello Abba Mohammed, before Justice A.R Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja on a 4-count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust and money laundering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
In the said suit, Mohammed’s son (Bello Abba Mohammed) was charged as the first accused person while the firm, BAM Projects and Properties Limited, which was used to perpetrate the fraud and the former PDP Chair was cited as the second and third accused persons respectively.
Ibrahim, while being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, said that, a payment of N300m was made in two tranches to the accused company’s account of BAM Projects and Properties Limited from the funds meant for the procurement of arms through the office of the former National Security Adviser (NSA).
Ibrahim stated that the accused persons, through the firm withdrew the money from an account of the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
The fund was said to have been transferred to the accused persons by the embattled former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), 11 days to the 2015 presidential election.
Ibrahim, while being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, told the court that, she was attached to the Forensic Accounting unit of the Commission as an analyst.
She stated that, her schedule of duties include general investigations, interview of suspects and complainants, analysis of documents, arrests where necessary, executing search warrants and any other duties as may be assigned to her.
The PW1 told the court that, a special task force was created sometime in October/November 2014 to investigate defence arms contracts and alleged financial misappropriation of funds in the ONSA.
The witness stated that, relevant government agencies including banks, staff of the Accountant-General’s Office and that of the ONSA as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN were contacted to furnish us with necessary information about the case.
According to Ibrahim, “One of the discoveries we made after receiving relevant documents from the Accountant-General’s Office was a letter written by the Ministry of Finance to the CBN requesting for N100billion on March 2, 2015.
The sum was for several expenditures for several agencies but specifically, N30billion of the N100billion was for the ONSA for ‘security issues’.
“On March 6, 2015, the AGF wrote to CBN authorising the release of N30billion which was paid into ONSA account with CBN on the 11th of March 2015.
“On March 17, 2015, N300million out of the N30billion paid into the ONSA account was paid into BAM Projects and Properties Limited account in Sterling Bank with the narration on the mandate for the payment being ‘Payment for safe houses’ ”.
Consequent upon that discovery, Ibrahim stated that her team requested for the statement of account of BAM Projects and Properties Limited from Sterling Bank the analysis which showed that, a payment of N300m was made on February 27, 2015 in two tranches of N150million each to BAM Projects and Properties account with Sterling Bank from JABBAMA ADA GLOBAL SERVICES LIMITED.
The witness further told the court that, the first defendant, initially denied knowledge of the funds paid into his account, specifically, the N300million, but later admitted after he spoke with his father (the third defendant) who was away at the time.
“The first defendant was confronted with the disbursement of the funds from his account and he confessed that the disbursements were made on the instruction of his father for the purpose of elections”, Ibrahim stated.
Documents in support of the claim were tendered by Jacobs, though objected to by the defence counsel, Umoh, his objection was overruled and the documents were admitted in evidence as exhibits.
Thereafter, Justice Mohammed adjourned to Tuesday, February 23, 2016 for continuation of trial.