$40 m contract: EFCC’s bid to inject fresh evidence stalls GEJ’s cousin’s trial

By Grace Udofia
Abuja – For the second time in two days, the prosecution in the trial of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, Azibaola Robert, wife, Stella and company, Oneplus, stalled the cross-examination of its witnesses by seeking abrupt adjournment that infuriated the judge, Nnami Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Robert Azibaola and his wife

Although the defendants were ready to take on an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission operative, David Nkpe, who appeared as the tenth prosecution witness on Friday, counsel for the the prosecution Sylvanus Tahir, again pleaded with the judge, just as he did on Wednesday, to grant him permission to ‘attend to another matter’ in another court.

“My Lord, I am in a difficult situation again just as I was on Wednesday and I need your authorisation to leave this matter and attend to another one in another court,” Tahir pleaded with the judge, who was taken aback by the request and wondered why prosecution did not come prepared to go on with the case after two adjournments in a week.

Trouble had started for the prosecution when it tried to introduce some extraneous documents which were not listed in the proof of evidence and served on the defendants as required by the court, the defendants vehemently objected to the move and a heated argument between the two parties.

The development forced the judge to stand down the matter for one hour to enable the prosecution to furnish the defendants with the ‘fresh evidence’.

But upon resumption, the EFCC counsel suddenly rose up and asked the judge for permission to attend to another matter in a different court, a development that took the judge aback.

The EFCC operative, who was the tenth witness called by the prosecution, is the only one who claimed to have investigated Robert and his company, Oneplus and discovered that the $40 million paid to them by the ONSA was for a ‘Safe House’ but could not explain to the judge what a safe house is.

Based on the inability of the witness to explain what a safe house is, the defendants objected to the attempt to shop for an explanation and the judge upheld the objection.

“The mandate instruction shows that the payment was for a Safe House Project. But I did not confirm the property to be Safe House,” Nkpe said.”

He went on: “We investigated the utilisation of the funds and discovered that the funds were transferred to other companies including Bureau de Change and some of the funds transferred offshore to countries like London and United Arab Emirates”.

He added that, “Another sum of $1.493million was transferred to ‘Kakatar El Ltd’ which is also a company under One Plus Holdings; a sum of $2million was transferred to ‘Capitafield Investment Ltd’ and another $330,000 transferred to a company called ‘Teledom’.”

But on Wednesday, when he appeared as a witness to EFCC, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, who runs Teledom International Limited, denied transacting any business with or knowing Robert, his wife or his company.

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