The Federal Government, on Thursday, tendered before the Federal High Court, Abuja, different currencies of dollars stashed in three bags as evidence in the money laundering charge against Air Commodore Umar Mohammed (rtd.)
Counsel to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Magaji Labaran, tendered the bags of money before Justice Inyang Ekwo while leading the only witness in the case, Stephen Olatubosun, in evidence.
The News agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mohammed (1st defendant) and his company, Easy Jet Integrated Service Ltd (2nd defendant), are being charged with three counts bordering on money laundering, illegal possession of firearms and possession of classified documents without lawful authority.
The retired air officer and his company are alleged to have received the sum of one million, thirty thousand American Dollars ($1,030,000) in cash from Worldwide Consortium PTY Ltd, as payment for freight services on 19th June, 2016, contrary to the Money Laundering Act 2011 (as Amended).
Justice Ekwo had, on Wednesday, ordered that the currencies be counted with a counting machine at the office of the Deputy Chief Registrar (Litigation) in the presence of all the parties to ascertain the total amount before they were tendered at the court.
At the resumed trial on Thursday, the AGF lawyer told the court that the parties in the case had complied with the court order.
“My lord, we have done the needful at the office of the Chief Deputy Registrar (Litigation). The currencies were counted and are in three bags labelled Bag A, Bag B and Bag C,” Labaran said.
Also, lawyer to the defendants, Hassan Liman, SAN, confirmed that all the parties were duly represented during the counting of the currencies.
The prosecution witness, Olatubosun, a staff of the the Department of State Security Service (DSS), identified the three bags of money when he was being led in evidence by Labaran.
“There are three bags; two black and one brown. They are labelled as Bag A, Bag B and Bag C respectively with the currencies sum attached to them,” he responded.
The witness, giving the breakdown of the sum in each bags, said Bag A contained 529, 400 dollars and Bag B had 499, 800 dollars.
Olatubosun said Bag C contained different currencies of dollars including naira notes.
According to him, Bag C contains N1, 200, 000 in 1000 naira note; N100, 000 in 500 naira note; 957 US Dollars; 2, 570, 000CFA and another rap of 5, 000CFA.
The DSS officer stated further that Bag C also had 46, 500CFA; 20, 000CFA; 4, 000CFA, 50 Barbados Dollars; another 70 Barbados Dollars containing 10 bundles; 5 pieces of Caribbean Dollars; 7 pieces of Trinidad and Tobago Dollars ; 5 pieces of Trinidad and Tobago Dollars and another 60 Trinidad and Tobago Dollars in a wrap.
Justice Ekwo, who admitted the three bags of currencies in exhibits, ordered the chief registrar of the court to keep the bags at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) pending the further order of the court.
The witness, during a cross examination by counsel to the defendants, Hassan Liman, SAN, said he was neither part of the team that visited the retired officer’s residence nor took his statement.
He, however, said based on the report in the case file made available by the DSS officers who carried out the operation, “the source of the currency is from the defendant.”
Olatubosun said though he did not personally investigate the defendant, to the best of his knowledge, Mohammed “is a businessman.”
Liman informed the court that the defendant would be applying for a no-case submission shortly after the judge closed the prosecution case.
Justice Ekwo then granted the defence application to enter a no-case submission.
Ekwo, who gave the defence counsel 21 days to file the no-case submission, gave the prosecution counsel seven days to counter it and two days for the defendant to respond if the need arise.
The judge adjourned the matter until April 27 for adoption of final written addresses in the trial.
NAN also reports that part of the charges against the defendant include possession of two pump action guns without valid licenses contrary Section 4 of the Firearms Act, 2004 and for having in his possession classified/official documents without lawful authority contrary to Section 1(1) (b) of the Official Secrets Act Cap. O3 LFN, 2004.(NAN)