How Ashinze, Others Cornered, N3.15bn, N2.5bn Through Proxy

The first prosecution witness, Hassan Seidu, in the ongoing trial of Col. Nicholas Ashinze and three others, Monday, told the court how N3.15bn and N2.5bn were cornered by the defendants using a proxy
Led in evidence by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecuting lawyer, Ofem Ufet, Seidu said the instruction to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to pay the money came from the Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria and 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 bordering on 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 are accused of conspiring among themselves to obtain N5.6bn from Office of National Security Adviser.
Seidu, an investigator with the EFCC said that through investigation, it was discovered that the company of the fourth defendant, Sagir Mohammed, was used to obtain the money without execution of any visible contract.
According to Seidu, 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 dated April 11, 2014 and the second employment schedule of N2.5bn 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 Central Bank of Nigeria, 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 true certified 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.
He said there was no evidence that the prescribed fee for such documents was paid
Afam Osigwe, counsel to the second and fifth defendants, said technicalities should be done awsy with so as to face the main trial. In other words he was not opposed to the documents, “we are ready for trial”, he asserted.
Paul Erokoro, counsel to third defendant said he left the decision to accept or reject the documents as exhibit to the discretion of the court.
The fourth 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 attention of the court to Section 56, 57, 58 of Evidence Act, which among others say that documents, especially from the CBN “must be duly authorised by Governor of CBN and must be served within 10 days before trial.
But the prosecuting lawyer insisted that certification done on the two documents were in consonance with section 104(1) as cited by Nwonye.
He held 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 oayment.
“As 56,57,58 cited by fourth defendant’s counsel the section is not specified. The section did not say that when a document is not authorised by Governor of CBN, should be rejected. It is not specific.
“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, adding “the e-payment schedules were inadmissible, marked as rejected E and F”
The matter was adjourned till July 5 for continuation of trial.

Author: News Editor

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