No lodgement, withdrawal traced to Ali Bello in exhibits tendered–Witness

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Mr Olomotane Egoro, an Access Bank staff, on Monday, admitted that Mr Ali Bello, a co-defendant in the ongoing money laundering trial, neither lodged nor withdrew money in the bank statements tendered in the proceedings.

Egoro, who is also an EFCC’s 2nd prosecution witness (PW2), stated this while being cross-examined by Bello’s counsel, Abdullahi Aliyu, SAN, before Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court, Abuja.

Upon resumed hearing, Aliyu applied for some exhibits of bank statements tendered by the anti-graft agency.

The bank statements belonged to some companies including Vifaz Multibiz Investment Company, Ary Consulting and Integrated Services, Hayzma Business Enterprise, e-Traders International Limited, and Aleshua Solutions Services.

Other companies’ account statements tendered included that of Whales Oil and Gas, Forza Oil and Gas, Dada Grand Merchant Ltd, and that of the Unnatii and Jamilu Abdullahi.

When Aliyu asked if there was any lodgement or withdrawal made by Bello in those accounts, the EFCC’s witness, after thoroughly going through the exhibits, said: “None my lord.”

The lawyer also asked Egoro to confirm from Exhibit E if there was any payment made to T.B Bank United States, e-Traders International Limited, Aleshua Solutions Services and others, and the witness equally said: “None my lord.”

When asked if there was any withdrawal that exceeded the statutory limit stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Exhibit E tendered, the witness said: “I don’t know what the limit was at the time.”

“Do you know what it is now?” the lawyer asked the witness.

Egoro responded that for an individual, the statutory withdrawal limit is N5 million while for a corporate body is N10 million.

The witness, however, agreed that the bank usually adhere to the laid down rules in its transaction.

He acknowledged that for Hayzma Business Enterprise account, the signatory is the 3rd defendant.

He also agreed with the lawyer that for e-Traders’ account in Exhibit G, the only person that made payment into that account was the 2nd defendant.

Egoro confirmed that the 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants never made any payment into the account.

When asked if there was anything wrong in a signatory to an account to withdraw money from the same account, the witness said: “No, my lord.”

He said he was aware that the federal, state and local governments do award contracts to individuals and that when such contracts are executed, payments are made.

The witness admitted that majority of the transactions he earlier identified from the accounts belonging to the 2nd to 4th defendants which were suspected to be proceeds of money laundering from the LGAs or Kogi state were proceeds from a loan of N2 billion accessed from the bank by the 4th defendant’s company.

Justice Egwuatu adjourned the matter until June 24 for counsel for the 2nd to 4th defendants, Mr Nureini Jimoh, SAN, to cross-examine Egoro.

It would be recalled that in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/573/2022, Bello and three others are facing trial on an alleged N3 billion fraud charge preferred against them by the anti-graft agency.

Biola Lawal

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