A witness on Tuesday told a Federal High Court that Abdullahi Babalele, a son in-law to former Vice President Atiku Abubajar instructed him to take the sum of $140, 000 to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on Tuesday opened its case against Babalele who it accused of laundering $140, 000 in the build-up to the 2019 general elections.
The EFCC arraigned Babalele on two counts of money laundering in August, accusing him of contacting Mr Bashir Mohammed to make a cash payment of $140,000 without going through any financial institution.
The prosecutor said the value of the transaction which was made on February 20 exceeded the threshold stipulated by the money laundering law and a 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.
The trial commenced before Justice C.J. Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos with the testimony of Bashir Mohammed who described himself as a very close friend of Babalele.
Led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, Mohammed narrated to the court in detail how he delivered the naira equivalent of $140,000 to Obasanjo on Babalele’s instructions.
Recall that Obasanjo who had fallen out with Atiku surprisingly endorsed his erstwhile vice and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the February 23 presidential election.
Mohammed claimed to have received a phone call from Babalele sometime in February, requesting him to deliver a message to ‘an elder statesman’. He disclosed that on Babalele’s request he supplied two bank accounts which were credited after which he changed and took the money to Obasanjo’s residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
His words: “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.”
Upon cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mohammed admitted that he wrote a statement at the EFCC office during investigation. Ozekhome’s bid to tender the said statement as an exhibit was however opposed by Oyedepo.
Justice Aneke adjourned the case till Wednesday to rule on the admissibility of the statement.