The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday opened its case of alleged N1.1bn fraud against Shamsudeen Bala-Mohammed, a son of a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Bala Mohammed.
The commission called one of its detectives involved in the investigation of the case, Mr. Ishaya Dauda, as its first prosecution witness on Thursday.
The witness, led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Ben Ikani, detailed how the defendant allegedly paid a cumulative sum of N1.1bn to buy different properties in different parts of Abuja.
He said Shamsudeen acquired the various houses in the names of different companies.
The EFCC had on May 30, 2017 re-arraigned Shamsudeen and four other companies on amended 15 counts of money laundering and false declaration of assets involving the sum of N1,105,719,005.
Shamsudeen was charged along with four other companies, namely, Bird Trust Argo Limited, Intertrans Global Logistics Limited, Diakin Telecommunications Limited and Bal-Vac Mining Nigeria Limited.
The EFCC accused the ex-minister’s son of making cash payments above statutory limit for the construction and purchase of properties in various parts of Abuja.
He allegedly paid various cash sums of money beyond the limit set by the Money Laundering Act for the purchase of houses without going through a financial institution.
The suspect allegedly concealed four of his accounts domiciled in Standard Chartered Bank.
The commission also accused Shamsudeen of failing to declare his assets when he completed the EFCC Asset Declaration Form A in 2015.
The trial resumed before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba on Thursday when the first prosecution witness told the court that he discovered the offences allegedly committed by Shamsudeen while investigating his father.
The ex-minister, Mohammed, who is also being separately prosecuted before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Gudu, Abuja, on six counts bordering on receiving gratification and making false assets declaration of some of his properties, sat among the audience throughout the period the proceedings of his son’s trial lasted on Thursday.
Dauda, the first prosecution witness, told Justice Dimgba on Thursday that apart from the intelligence received on Mohammed, there was an additional intelligence received about Shamsudeen’s activities revealing how he (Shamsudeen) used the four companies charged along with him to acquire the properties.
The witness also revealed how the sums of N580,000 and $60,000 were recovered from Shamsudeen’s residence during execution of a search warrant.
He said, “I know the defendant. In the course of investigating a case assigned to me against the former FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, we received an additional intelligence concerning purchases of properties by the defendant.
“We received intelligence that the defendant acquired several properties within the FCT.
“We worked on the intelligence and we have names of the properties acquired through companies.
“The companies are Diakin Telecommunications Ltd., Balbac Minning Nigeria Ltd., and Intertrans Logistics Global Nigeria Ltd.
“We extended our investigation to the Corporate Affairs Commission. We confirmed that the companies were registered with the CAC.
“We invited the lawyers that registered these companies by name Ishiaku Shuaibu, who confirmed that he registered those companies.
“When we asked Shuaibu how he came about the companies, he informed us that one Abdullahi Sani, a member of staff with the Corporate Affairs Commission gave him the name. Abdullahi Sani was invited to our office and was asked about the companies. He also informed us that the defendant gave him the names of the companies to register.
“Our investigation was extended to Abuja Investments Development Company, where the General Manager, Dr. Musa Musa, and the company secretary, Salisu Abdusalam, were invited to our office.
“Their statements were taken concerning the purchase of properties by the defendant using Diakin Telecommunications Ltd., and Balbac Minning Nigeria Ltd., which they confirmed.
“They said he brought cash to their office. He bought the properties from the Abuja Development Investments Company. The properties are located in Apo Area of Abuja.
“Another property that was purchased by the defendant is at 7, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja. He brought cash in company with a lady by name, Maimuna Aliyu Sanda.
“Together they took this cash to the developer, by name, Farouk Saleh. The cash was in dollars, they told me. But the worth of the property was N210m.
“Another property was purchased at Sunrise Hill, Asokoro. The defendant made lodgment of N80m to the then managing director of the company. The MD, Sami Apougaoude, a Lebanese is late now. Then the defendant contacted a company, K & K Construction Company, to build the said property.
“He again made a cash lodgment of N100m to Sunrise Hill in error which was then transferred to K &K Construction Company into their Zenith Bank account. He then made a cash lodgment of N110m to K& K directly.
“Again, he made a lodgment of N200m to K&K Construction Company.
“All these lodgments were made in the name of the Birtrus Agro Allied Limited.
“The last time he made lodgment to K & K Construction company was N296m.”
The witness said the defendant was then taken to the EFCC’s office in Abuja, where he (Shamsudeen) made statements and also completed the commission’s Asset Declaration Form.
The prosecuting counsel also tendered the statements made by the defendant and the asset declaration form completed by him.
The defence counsel, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), did not object to the admissibility of the documents.
Justice Dimgba admitted them as exhibits.
On Thursday, the defence insisted that the sums of money recovered from Shamsudeen’s house should be returned to him since they had nothing to do with the charges.
But the EFCC’s lawyer, Ikani, said the relevance of the sums of money would be determined at the final address stage.
He informed the judge that he would tender the sums of money through the EFCC’s exhibit keeper.
Justice Dimgba adjourned until December 11 for cross-examination of the first prosecution witness.