Akeem Nafiu Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court in Lagos has upheld the no-case motion filed by Abdullahi Babalele, the sonin- law to a former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, over the money laundering charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge, in a ruling on the motion yesterday, threw out the 2-count charge of alleged $140,000 filed by the anti-graft agency against Babalele on the ground of wrong venue.
Relying on the Supreme Court’s decision in a case between the EFCC and Mohammed Belgore on territorial jurisdiction, the judge held that the charge against the defendant ought not to have been filed in Lagos when the alleged offence was said to have been committed in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The anti-graft agency had alleged that Babalele laundered the money on February 20, 2019, with the aid of one, Bashir Mohammed, a Bureau De Change (BDC) operator, without going through financial institutions.
The defendant, however, denied the offences which were said to have contravened Sections 18(c), 18(a), 1(a), 16(1), (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16, 16(2)(b)16(2)(b) of the same Act.
In the course of trial, the EFCC called two witnesses and tendered several documents which were admitted as exhibits by the court. But, at the end of the prosecution’s case, the defendant through his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) filed a no-case motion, rather than opening his defence to the allegations against him.
Meanwhile, further hearing in the trial of Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, a lawyer to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, over alleged money laundering continued yesterday before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court in Lagos. Uyiekpen is standing trial alongside his brother, Erhunse.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Monday, the anti-graft agency called its second witness, Shuaibu Shehu, one of its investigators, to testify in the matter.
While being led in evidence by the EFCC’s lawyer, Kufre Uduak, the witness narrated how his team conducted an investigation based on an intelligence received sometimes in 2019 that some politicians were moving around with Dollars to influence the result of the last general election.
He said: “Based on this intelligence, my team conducted investigations and recovered the sum of $1.459 million and N50 million in cash.
It was also revealed that the sum of $1.6 million was given to one, Alhaji Lawan Abdullahi, a Bureau De Change Operator (BDC).
“It was also discovered that the money came from a company called Guensey Trust Nigeria Limited controlled by the first defendant in trust for Atiku Abubakar.