The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos Tuesday heard that a former acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Haruna Baba Jauro allegedly laundered N120million through the bank account of a firm he registered in the name of himself, his children and relations.
An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) witness, Orji Chukwuma, made the allegation during his testimony in the alleged N304 million money laundering trial of Jauro and two others.
Justice Tijani Ringim, before whom Jauro is being prosecuted, also admitted in evidence several documents tendered by the Commission, according to a statement by EFCC Head, Media & Publicity, Mr Wilson Uwujaren.
Jauro alongside Dr. Dauda Bitrus Bawa and a firm, Thlumbau Enterprises Limited, are the first, second and third defendants on a 19-count charge of alleged stealing and money laundering to the tune of N304,118,500.
At the resumed hearing Tuesday, the EFCC presented Chukwuma as its third prosecution witness (PW3).
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, Chukwuma, of the Chairman Monitoring Unit, EFCC, Abuja, told the court that he was Head, of Special Task Force Unit 3, Lagos Zonal Command, at the time of the investigation of the alleged fraud.
PW3 stated that he came across all the defendants in the course of his investigation, upon receipt of intelligence reports against the management of NIMASA.
He testified that the 3rd defendant was incorporated by the 1st defendant, using his children, while the 2nd defendant operated the account of the 3rd defendant.
“Further investigation revealed that proceeds of unlawful activities of the 1st defendant while he was the Executive Director of Finance and Administration in NIMASA, was concealed and laundered for his benefit through the 3rd defendant. The proceeds were used to acquire a property in Abuja,” Chukwuma alleged.
Chukwuma further alleged that funds co-mingled with loans taken from Aso Savings Limited were used to acquire two other houses in Lagos.
Asked if he could identify both Exhibits AI and A2, which are the 3rd defendant’s statement of account containing the proceeds of the enquiries and investigations he carried out, PW3 identified exhibit A series as the 3rd defendant’s mandate and statement of accounts, responses to the EFCC’s enquires as well as the instruments used to move money out of the 3rd defendant’s account.
The witness alleged that one Samuel Haruna Baba had 500,000 ordinary units; one Salome Haruna Baba owned 250,000 ordinary shares and one Ila Haruna owned 200,000 ordinary shares in the firm.
He said the names mentioned were Jauro’s children and relations and that their addresses were the same as his.
The prosecution tendered a copy of the internal memo of NIMASA dated July 8, 2014, and two letters of instructions to a bank from NIMASA dated January 3, 2014. They were admitted and marked as exhibits B, B1 and B2 by the court.
While giving further testimony about exhibit A and some entries made on January 6, 2014, Chukwuma explained that there was an inflow of N15m that came from the Committee of Intelligence belonging to NIMASA.
He said: “The Committee is set up and funded by NIMASA for specific purposes related to security.
“Investigations showed, from the account statement of January 23, 2014, that the sum of N12m out of the N15m was transferred to the account of the first defendant in Aso Savings to manage the loans he took to buy a property.
“On July 10, 2014, another sum of N20m was also paid into the account of the third defendant.
“Subsequently, the 2nd defendant also benefited the sum of N1,470,000 which was later returned to the Commission in a draft.”
The witness further testifies that the sum of N20m was transferred by Kishini Nigeria Limited and another N5m was paid to the third defendant by Eminent Consult.
The 3rd defendant’s account, according to him, was co-mingled and aggregated to the sum of N52m paid to one Helen Mbonu, who used it to purchase a house for the first defendant.
Asked if the third defendant rendered any services that led to the various cash payments totaling N120m, the witness told the court that the 3rd defendant never rendered any services, adding that “the payments are proceeds of unlawful activities.”
The case was adjourned till March 15, 2023, for the continuation of trial.