By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, admitted as exhibit, another set of evidence tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Haliru Bello and his son.
Bello, his Son, Abba and their firm, Bam Projects and properties Ltd, is facing four-count charge of money laundering brought against them by the EFCC.
The court had earlier granted the defendants bail to the tune of N600million with two sureties each, in like sum.
According to the anti-graft agency, the defendants had through the firm, received the sum of N300million from an account the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
The fund was said to have been transferred to the defendants 11 days to the 2015 presidential election, by the detained former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, rtd, under the guise that it was meant for “Safe Houses”.
The commission maintained that the offence the defendants committed was contrary to sections 15(2) (d), 17(a), and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section (15) (3) of the same Act.
At the resumption of trial yesterday, justice Mohammed admitted four documents which detailed how funds were transferred and withdrawn from an account the defendants operated with Ecobank Plc, and marked them as exhibits PL-11, PL-11a, PL-11b and PL-11c.
Meanwhile, the documents the court admitted into evidence on Wednesday included a letter from Ecobank in response to EFCC’s enquiry, the statement of account of the company, the account opening statement, as well as the Certificate of Identification.
Justice Mohammed dismissed objections the defendants raised against the admissibility of the documents.
The defendants had through their lawyers led by Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, and Mr. Solomon Umoh, SAN, queried the admissibility of the documents which they argued was not frontloaded by the EFCC as prescribed in section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
The prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, however urged the court to dismiss the objection, even as he contended that admissibility of documents in a criminal trial was guided by the Evidence Act and not the ACJA which the defendants relied upon.
In a short ruling Justice Mohammed said he was minded to admit the documents into evidence since they are relevant to the charge against the defendants.
“The non-compliance to section 379 of the ACJA is not enough ground to make a relevant document irrelevant”, the court held.
In another ruling, the court granted an application the former PDP boss filed to be allowed to travel to the United Kingdom for medical checkup.
EFCC did not oppose the application which was filed on April 10.
Though Justice Mohammed directed the deputy registrar of the court to release the international passport the defendant surrendered as part of his bail conditions, he held that Bello should not travel out of the country till May 22 which is the next adjourned date.
He held that documents before the court showed that Bello was billed to see his Doctor in London on June 5.