The trial of Ibrahim Shekarau, a former Governor of Kano State, continued on February 1, 2019, with Justice Lewis Allagoa of a Federal High Court in Kano, admitting in evidence the statements made by Shekarau and two others, with whom he is facing money laundering charges.
Shekarau is standing trial alongside Aminu Bashir Wali and Mansur Ahmed on a six-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N950,000,000.
They are alleged to have taken possession of the said sum, which was “part of an unlawful act of Diezani Alison-Madueke”, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, for gratification purpose, in the build-up to the 2015 general election.
The statements made by the three defendants under interrogation were tendered in evidence by the prosecution led by EFCC counsel, Samuel Chime. They were admitted in evidence and marked as Exhibits A, A1, A2, B and C. The court also admitted in evidence a receipt of payment and a letter both from Fidelity Bank as Exhibits D and D1, respectively.
Prosecution witness, Mahmud Tukur, an operative of the EFCC, told the court how investigations revealed that they colluded and collected the N950million from Fidelity Bank and distributed same among members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kano.
He said: “After concluding the investigation, it was revealed that N950million was received by the 2nd and 3rd defendants on 9th March, 2015, at Fidelity Bank Plc Murtala Mohammed Way Branch, Kano, and was handed over by the 2nd and 3rd defendants to the chief detail of the 1st defendant on the consent of the 1st defendant and the N950,000,000 was transported to the house of the 1st defendant where it was distributed on the 27th of March, 2015.”
He noted that the handling of the cash for the distribution contravened the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, as it was above the threshold permitted by law.
Tukur further told the court that Shekarau got N25million, while Wali received N25million, with Mansur getting N10 million.
Tukur, whose testimony began on January 31, 2019, had told the Court that the EFCC received intelligence report that Diezani warehoused N23billion at Fidelity Bank in Lagos, out of which N950 million was “directed” to be given to the PDP in Kano, which was received two days to the 2015 presidential election, by Wali and Mansur.
He said: “Having received this report, a case file was opened for the intelligence and we commenced investigation by visiting Fidelity Bank's Muratala Mohammed Way Branch, Kano, and we interviewed the Business Manager, Aliyu Dau Aliyu, and the operation manager.
“In the course of the interview, they confirmed to us that they gave the 2nd and 3rd defendants the sum of N950million, and shortly after that, they provided us with the receipt of payment alongside the identification document of the 2nd and 3rd defendants via a letter dated 27th April, 2016.”
Under cross-examination, S.T. Ologunorisa (SAN), counsel for the 2nd and 3rd defendants, asked Tukur if he had the account name and number of the bank account that Deizani used to “warehouse” the N23billion.
“It was an intelligence report that we acted on,” he replied.
Ologunorisa then asked if he was aware of the fundraising dinner that generated over N20billion for the PDP, to which Tukur responded that he had no knowledge of it.
The prosecution, thereafter, called its second witness, Saheed Adeolula, a former staff of Fidelity Bank Plc branch that allegedly received the money.
Adeolula told the court that his bank had, sometime in March, received instruction from the headquarters for the release of the sum of N950million to the 2nd defendant who was accompanied by one other person.
The witness informed the court that before releasing the money, he called to get confirmation from the Divisional Head of Operations who told him to carry out the transaction as instructed.
“We then approached the Central Bank of Nigeria to get the money because there was not enough money at the branch and due to the delay from the CBN, the transaction was done in the night,” he said.
Adeolula further told the court that the procedure in which the money was distributed was not a normal banking procedure.
“It is not a normal transaction, in the sense that it did not pass any account and the beneficiaries did not present any instrument for the transaction,” he added.
The case has been adjourned to April 10 and 11, 2019 for continuation of trial.