Two prosecution witnesses on Thursday told Justice Mikail Aliyu of the Niger State High Court, Minna, how the state’s former governor, Babangida Aliyu, withdrew N800 million with 80 cheques at the resumed hearing in his trial for alleged money laundering.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) arraigned Aliyu and two others – Tanko Beji and Umar Nasko – for alleged diversion of about N2billion Ecological Fund during his tenure as Niger State governor.
The two witnesses, Muhammed Nma Abubakar, and Isaac Gado, are staff of Zenith Bank Plc.
They revealed how 80 cheques drawn in the name of one Saidu Nma were cashed and the proceeds delivered to Nasko, who was Chief of Staff to the ex-governor.
Under cross-examination, Abubakar said he was approached in 2014 by an account owner, I.D. Sabin Investment Nigeria Limited, who dropped about 20 cheques for delivery to the Manager of Zenith Bank, Minna 1 branch.
He said: “I immediately handed them over to my dispatch rider and he delivered it to the branch manager, Isaac Gado. The values of the cheques were N10million each.”
On his part, Gado told the court that I.D. Sabin Investment Nigeria Limited issued Abubakar with about 20 cheques in the sum of N10 million each.
Gado said: “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.”
According to him, the two officials informed him that once the cheques are confirmed and cashed, the cash should be delivered to Umar Nasko.
“The same process was followed in respect to the total of 80 cheques bearing the same amount.
“In total, that should amount to N800 million because there were 80 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 was made from the account and the cash delivered to the Chief of Staff, Alhaji Umar Nasko,” the witness added.
The prosecution counsel, Faruk Abdallah, applied to tender 60 out of the 80 cheques to the court in evidence.
Justice Aliyu admitted the cheques as Exhibit C1 to C60.
The case was adjourned to October 14 for ruling on the admissibility of other documents and continuation of trial.
At Thursday’s proceedings, the judge admitted in evidence documents tendered by Gado 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 Nasko objected to the admissibility of the documents on the grounds that they were brought to court by the witness.
However, the prosecution counsel prayed the court to admit the documents in evidence.
Justice Aliyu 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.
He adjourned the matter till October 15.