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Alleged N10b fraud: Witness can’t recall if ex-gov Bello’s cousin made withdrawals from state’s account

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Alleged N10b fraud: Witness can’t recall if ex-gov Bello’s cousin made withdrawals from state’s account

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A prosecution witness in the trial of Ali Bello (said to be cousin of Kogi State’s ex-governor, Yahaya Bello) and one other, Edward Bananda has said he could not recall if the defendants made withdrawals from the state’s account.

Bello and Dauda are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before a Federal High Court in Abuja on a 10-count charge in which they are accused of engaging in misappropriation and money laundering.

At the resumption of proceedings on Monday, Bananda, the second prosecution witness, was cross-examined by lawyers to the defendants – A. M Aliyu (SAN) and Nureini Jimoh (SAN).

While being questioned by Jimoh (who represented Suleiman), was handed three statements of accounts belonging to the state government and asked to recall if the defendants made withdrawals.

Bananda, who had said most of the withdrawals were made by Hudu Abdusalam (a cashier at the Kogi State House), told the court that he could not recall if the defendants made withdrawals from the accounts.

When asked if he could identify Hudu Abdusalam among the two defendants, the witness said he could not.

The witness who was taken through some pages of the account statements by Jimoh, noted that most of the inflows were security funds belonging to Kogi State Government.

He said none of the withdrawals in the account statements exceeded the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stipulated cash withdrawal limit of N10 million.

Reading from one of the account statements, the witness noted that on May 24, 2019, there was an inflow of N50m; N100m on May 27, 2019; N50m on May 31, 2019; N50m on July 3.

The witness who said all the inflows were security funds, noted that they were also withdrawn in tranches of N10m each.

When Jimoh suggested to the witness that the funds were meant for security purposes of Kogi State, Bananda said he did not know.

Under cross-examination by Aliyu (who represented Bello), the witness said one of the accounts belonged to Kogi State Government House Administration.

Bananda said funds in the account belong to the Kogi state government and that there are names and signatories to the account.

After the cross-examination, the prosecuting lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN) indicated his intention to call another witness.

The trial judge, Justice James Omotosho adjourned till February 6 for the continuation of trial.

In the charge, the EFCC claimed the defendants, with Abdulsalami Hudu, withdrew N10.2 billion from Kogi State’s treasury for personal use.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Ali Bello, Dauda Sulaiman and Abdulsalam Hudu (now at large), between January and December 2021, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court procured Rabiu Usman Tafada to take possession of the total sum of N5,865,756,800 (five billion, eight hundred and sixty-five million, seven hundred and fifty-six thousand, eight hundred naira), which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: criminal misappropriation from the treasury of Kogi State and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 18 (c), 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

(The Nation)