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N10bn money laundering trial: Banker reveals 'huge transfers' from Kogi govt's accounts

Ali Bello, a nephew of Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello

Ali Bello, the nephew of Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello

A prosecution witness in the trial of Ali Bello, nephew of Kogi governor, Yahaya Bello and two others for N10 billion money laundering case, Banada Edward on Thursday narrated how huge funds were transferred in tranches from the accounts of Kogi state government and that of the state’s government House Administration account in suspicious transactions.

Edward, a banker with the United Bank for Africa, UBA spoke while giving testimony before Justice James Omotsho of the Federal High Court, Abuja in 10-count charges bordering on misappropriation and money laundering by levelled against Ali Bello by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Edward, a Compliance Officer with United Bank of Africa, UBA, led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, presented a statement of account generated from UBA in respect of transactions in the state government and state government’s house administration accounts.

In the statement of accounts, there were cash withdrawals on December 23, 2022 to tune of N20 million withdrawn in tranches of N10 million each from the Kogi State Government account in favour of Kudu Abdulsalam.

Oyedepo moved to tender the transactions as an exhibit in evidence but was opposed by A.M Alilu, counsel to the first defendant and Nureini Jimoh, counsel to the second defendant because the documents did not satisfy the Bank Book 258 of the Evidence Act as well as Sections 89(h) and 91(e) of the same Evidence Act 2011.

Responding, Oyedepo prayed the court to discount the arguments of the defence counsels, arguing that the documents are original and genuine in the form they appear.

“The law says where a document is admissible, the attachment goes with it. The documents are also relevant to the facts of the case. That is why it is going through the turbulence we are seeing now. I submit that the fundamental evidence given by the witness has complied with Section 90, sub-section 1, Paragraph (e) of the Evidence Act 2011, and the witness has confirmed on oath that the documents presented are made by customers of the bank. The document is relevant to the trial, because it is a bank statement. He even took a step further to authenticate the document through the certificate of authentication”, he said.

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Justice Omotosho ruled in favour of the prosecution and admitted the documents in evidence.

The witness also examined Exhibit E, which contained transactions on December 28, 2022, where he revealed that there were cheque withdrawals of N100 million each in four places in favour of one Alhassan Onakaji.

“On January 3, 2023, there was an inflow of N100 million and on January 4, 2023, there were withdrawals from the same account of N10 million each in nine withdrawals. There were further cheque withdrawals of N10 million each in favour of Abdulsalam Kudu.

“On January 11, 2023, there was an inflow of N100 million into the account and on January 24, 2023, there was also an inflow of N100 million into the account. On February 22, 2023, there were inflows of N24, 928,195.26 and N50 million. On February 6, 2023, there were inflows of N29,800,000, N16,740,000, N35,440,000, N22,700,000, N151,135,000.

“On February 6, 2023, there were also cash transfers in favour of Hussein Yusuf to the sum of N500,000.00; N300,000 in favour of Salaudin Abdulrazak; N500,000,00 in favour of Sule Ojo; N500,000,00 in favour of Shuab Abdulrasheed; N300,000.00 in favour Abubakar Magaji, N500,000.00 in favour of Abdulkareem Abdulraman; N1,300,000 in favour of Chrisenbirth Investment Ltd and N1,000,000 twice in favour of Peter Oha.

Justice Omotoso, after listening to the submissions of the witness, adjourned the matter till February 5 and 6 for continuation of the hearing.

Ali and Yahaya Bello and two others are standing trial in a N10 billion money laundering case. They were arraigned on December 15, 2022, on 10-count charges bordering on misappropriation and money laundering.

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