…As Ajudua’s lawyer probes source of Bamaiyi’s money over, alleged $8.4m fraud***
A witness told a Federal High Court in Abuja that former Director-General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Bature Masari, transferred N9m to his bank account for three lawmakers.
Testifying as fourth witness on Wednesday, Mr Habu Ozigi, Principal Partner of Kike Engineering Services, and staff of SMEDAN alleged that Masari transferred the amount on Nov. 28, 2014.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleged that Masari misappropriated N9million constituency project funds.
The EFCC is accusing Masari of being involved in a N104.7 million money laundering and proceeds of gratification.
Masari was arraigned by the EFCC on an amended 22 count charge bordering on alleged money laundering before Justice Okon Abang, after he was earlier arraigned on April 10, on 17 counts.
Ozigi alleged that Masari requested him to transfer N3million each to three lawmakers.
“I did as directed and transferred three million each to two of the lawmakers.
“As I was about to transfer the last N3 million to the third lawmaker, I received a phone call from the former director general not to do so.
“He then directed me to transfer the remaining money back to his account and I promptly did on Dec.2, 2014.
“I know the lawmakers. They have been to my former boss’s visited his office just like other National Assembly members in respect to their constituency projects,” he alleged.
After listening to the testimony, trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, adjourned the matter until Nov. 4 for further cross examination and continuation of trial.
Meanwhile, the Defence Counsel to Fred Ajudua, a Lagos socialite accused of defrauding a former Chief of Army Staff, retired Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, on Wednesday raised probing questions on the source of the $8.4million that Ajudua allegedly collected from Bamaiyi.
Addressing an Ikeja High Court, Ajudua’s lawyer, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), disputed Bamaiyi’s claims on the source of the money.
Citing available documents, Ojo argued that the sale of some of the property in question occurred in 1994, 10 years before the fraud.
The former chief of army staff had at previous court proceedings claimed that the source of the $8.4 million was from sale of some of his property and sales from his farm produce.
He also named other sources of the money as donations from friends, colleagues, relations and well-wishers, who had pleaded with him not to identify them because some of them held positions in government.
But responding to Ojo, Bamaiyi said that his properties were sold and that the proceeds from the sale were kept by his brother until when he needed to handover some money to Ajudua while he was in prison.
“I was in service when these properties were sold and my brother Barrister Danladi Bamaiyi was a witness as a solicitor when the lease agreements were signed.
“When the properties were to be sold, I invited him from Sokoto where he was practicing and I called Mr Yakoe Chai, the Managing Director of HFP, the construction firm and I told him my brother was going to get the payment for the sale.
“I gave my brother a note, it was my brother that collected the money from HFP on my instruction. I instructed my brother to change the money into U.S. dollars which he did until this case came up while I was in prison.
“My brother then moved from Sokoto to Abuja for legal practice when the issue of changing my counsel came up and I called my brother to send us the money which was to be given to Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) as professional fees.
“I sent my wife Inuade to Abuja and she collected $400,000 from my brother Danladi and on Nov. 30, 2004, she brought the money to the Kirikiri Maximum Prison,” Bamaiyi said.
Probing Bamaiyi further, Ojo said: “did you sell the property in either 2003, 2004 or 2005. Were the proceeds of the sale kept in a bank account, in the ground or at the graveyard?
“Why did you not send the hand-written note where you wrote the instructions to your brother to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Did you not fill asset declaration forms while you were in service?
“The farm you referred to in your evidence-in-chief, is it operating through a business name or a limited liability company?”
Responding, Bamaiyi said: “The properties were all sold in 1994 and the proceeds were kept by my brother. How he kept it I do not know, so far as he knew what he was doing.
“I gave him a hand-written note and that was sufficient, the notes were loosely written by me.
“I did not register my farm as a limited liability company. It was after my service and after I had been discharged and acquitted by the court that I registered it as Wadtare Farms but it had been in operation since 1984.
“The farm was run in my name and it has accounts in First Bank of Nigeria at Zuru in my village. The account I have in my village is the same account the farm was using for their transactions.
“I completed my asset declaration form when I was in service and I only registered my farm after service.”
Justice Josephine Oyefeso, however, adjourned the case until Nov. 8 for continuation of trial.
According to prosecution proceedings, Ajudua was incarcerated at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons over alleged fraud while Bamaiyi was incarcerated over alleged involvement in the attempted murder of Mr Alex Ibru, the Publisher of The Guardian Newspapers.
The prosecution alleges that Ajudua had alongside some accomplices, approached Bamaiyi in prison in 2004 and fleeced him of the amount.
Ajudua had allegedly convinced Bamaiyi that he could hire the legal services of Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) to help secure his freedom from Kirikiri Prisons with Ajudua fraudulently receiving $8.4 million as legal fee.
When the fraud came to light, the law chambers of Afe Babalola and Co. issued a disclaimer disassociating itself from the case.