The first prosecution witness, Hassan Seidu, in the ongoing trial of Col. Nicholas Ashinze, a former aide of the detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Mohammed Dasuki (rtd) and three others on Monday, told the Federal High Court in Abuja how N3.15 billion and N2.5 billion were cornered by the defendants by proxy.
Led in evidence by the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecuting lawyer, Ofem Ufet, the witness said the instruction to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to pay the money came from the Secretary to the Federal Government and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
Col. Ashinze is standing trial with Wolfgang Reinl, an Austrian, Edidiong Idiong and Sagir Mohammed, on a 13-count charge bordering on corruption and money laundering.
Other defendants in the case are five companies – Geonel Integrated Services Limited, Unity Continental Nigeria Limited, Helpline Organisation, Vibrant Resource Limited and Sologic Integrated Service Limited.
They defendants are accused of conspiring among themselves to obtain N5.6 billion from the Office of National Security Adviser.
Seidu, an investigator with the EFCC said it was gathered through investigation that the company of the 4th defendant, Sagir Mohammed, was used to obtain the money without execution of any visible contract.
The witness said documents retrieved from the first defendant, (Ashinze) showed that the receipt used in the e-payment, “emanated from Secretary to the Federal Government into Geonel Integrated Services Limited on April 11, 2014 and the second employment schedule of N2.5 billion into Unity Continental Nigeria Limited in February 2015, came from the Office of the National Security Adviser”
However, counsel to the first defendant, Ernest Nwonye, rejected the e-payment schedules supplied by the CBN when tendered by the prosecution as exhibits , on grounds that it was not original but photocopies.
“The documents do not meet the requirements of the law because they are photocopies, they are not Certified True Copies.
“Secondly, the certification only has the name, without where he works or any stamp on it to show his designation. They do not confirms with section 104 (1) of criminal law”, he argued and added that there was no evidence that the prescribed fee for such documents was paid.
Afam Osigwe, counsel to the 2nd and 5th defendants, said technicalities should be done away with so as to face the main trial and that he was not opposed to the documents, “we are ready for trial”, he asserted.
Paul Erokoro (SAN), counsel to the 3rd defendant said he left the decision to accept or reject the documents as exhibit to the discretion of the court, while the 4th defendant’s counsel, Mohammed Jimoh, aligned himself with the submission of Nwonye, adding no stamp of CBN for certification and designation of the person who signed the documents were not on the documents.
He drew the attention of the court to Section 56, 57, 58 of the Evidence Act, which among others provides that documents, especially from the CBN “must be duly authorised by the Governor of CBN and must be served within 10 days before trial”.
But the prosecution counsel, insisted that certification done on the two documents were in consonance with section 104(1) as cited by Nwonye and added that the section provides that the person requesting for a document must be made to pay fees as prescribed for the document, but when the issuer said they don’t have prescribed fees, it can be accepted without any payment.
“The fact that the stamp of CBN was not used does not derogate the documents”, he held.
However, in a short ruling, the trial Judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, rejected the documents because it did not conform with the Evidence Act, adding that, “the e-payment schedules were inadmissible”.
Justice Kolawole adjourned the matter till July 5, 2017 for continuation of trial.
Source: Nigerian Tribune