Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has began investigating son-in-law of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Abdullahi Babalele, for allegedly laundering $140,000.
At the Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday, an EFCC witness, Bashir Mohammed, who described himself as a close friend of Babalele, gave his testimony of how he delivered the naira equivalent of $140,000 to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Babalele’s instructions.
Mohammed claimed he received a phone call from Babalele sometime in February, requesting him to deliver a message to “an elder statesman”.
He said on Babalele’s request he supplied two bank accounts, which were credited.
The witness said he took the money to Obasanjo’s residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
“When I got to the gate, somebody came and took me inside where I met former President Olusegun Obasanjo and delivered the message.
“I called the defendant in the presence of former President Obasanjo and informed him that I had delivered the message. He said that was good and thanked me,” Mohammed said.
Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mohammed affirmed that he wrote a statement at the EFCC office during investigation.
Ozekhome’s bid to tender the statement as an exhibited was, however, opposed by the prosecutor.
Justice C.J Aneke adjourned till Wednesday to rule on the admissibility of the statement.
In August, the EFCC arraigned Babalele on two counts of money laundering, and accused him of “procuring Bashir Mohammed to make a cash payment of $140,000 without going through any financial institution”.
Oyedepo said the money exceeded the threshold stipulated by the money laundering law.
He said Babalele made the transaction on February 20, 2019 in contravention of Section 18 (c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and was liable to be punished under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
But Babalele pleaded not guilty to the two counts levelled against him.