The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has presented two more witnesses against former Niger State governor, Muazu Babangida Aliyu, and two others: Tanko Beji and Umar Nasko, in their ongoing money laundering trial before Justice Mikail Aliyu of the Niger State High Court, Minna.
The defendants are being prosecuted for the alleged diversion of about N2 billion Ecological Fund
The two witnesses, Muhammed Nma Abubakar, third prosecution witness (PW3), and Isaac Gado, fourth prosecution witness (PW4), both staff of Zenith Bank Plc, narrated how 80 cheques drawn in the name of Saidu Nma were cashed and the proceeds delivered to one of the defendant, Umar Nasko, who was Chief of Staff to Babangida Aliyu as governor of Niger State.
Under cross-examination, Nma Abubakar narrated how in 2014 he was approached by an account owner, I.D SABIN INVESTMENT NIGERIA LIMITED, who dropped about twenty cheques for delivery to the Manager of Zenith Bank, Minna 1 branch.
“I immediately handed them over to my dispatch rider and he delivered it to the branch manager, Isaac Gado. The value of the cheques were N10 million each,” he said.
On his part, the fourth prosecution witness, Gado told the court that a customer of Zenith bank, I.D SABIN Investment Nigeria Limited had issued his colleague, Muhammad Nma Abubakar, the third prosecution witness, with about twenty cheques in the sum of N10 million each.
“The account holder I.D SABIN drew the cheques in the name of Saidu Nma. Before that, I had received calls from the then Secretary to the State Government Alhaji Saidu Ndayako and the then Chief of Staff, Alhaji Umar Nasko, who informed me to expect the cheques”.
He said the two officials informed him that once the cheques are confirmed and cashed, the cash should be delivered to Umar Nasko, “and that was what happened”.
“The same process was followed in respect to the total of eighty cheques bearing the same amount.
“In total, that should amount to N800m (Eight Hundred Million Naira) because there were eighty cheques. After the withdrawal of the cash, the same amount will be delivered to the Chief of Staff. Saidu Nma performed the withdrawal because the cheques were drawn in his name. I collected the cheques, and confirmed that they were properly drawn and signed according to the mandate. Thereafter, withdrawal is made from the account and the cash delivered to the Chief of Staff, Alhaji Umar Nasko,” the witness added.
Prosecution counsel, Faruk Abdallah applied to tender sixty out of the eighty original cheques to the court in evidence.
Justice Mikail admitted the cheques as Exhibit C1 to C60.
The case was adjourned to October 14, 2021, for ruling on the admissibility of other documents and continuation of trial.
At the resumed hearing on Thursday, Justice Ailyu admitted in evidence documents tendered by the fourth prosecution witness (PW4), which include account opening forms and account opening documents; Certificate of Identification of I.D Sabin Investment Nigeria Limited, with the account number 1013331525; Ministry of Environment, Parks, Gardens, Forest and Resources with account number 1013403497; Accountant General Statutory Account with account number 1011272451; North-South Power Company Limited with account Number 1013224306 and Government House Security Account with account number 1012424374.
Counsel for the third defendant had objected to the admissibility of the documents on the grounds that they were brought to court by the fourth prosecution witness, PW4, Isaac Gado, a branch manager at Zenith Bank.
However, prosecution counsel, Faruk Abdallah, prayed the court to admit the documents in evidence.
Justice Mikail admitted and marked all the documents relating to I.D Sabin Investment Nigeria Limited as Exhibit D1 to D52, while documents relating to the Ministry of Environment, Parks, Gardens, Forest and Resources with account number 1013403497 as E1 to E36. Also, documents relating to Accountant General Statutory Account with account number 1011272451 were admitted and marked as F1 to F21.
Also, the Judge admitted and marked account opening documents, account opening forms, certificate of identification of North-South Power Company Limited with account Number 1013224306 as G1 to G22 while the documents for Government House Security Account with account number 1012424374 were admitted and marked as H1 to H71.
Justice Mikail adjourned the matter to October 15, 2021, for cross-examination of PW4.