High profile corruption: How Azibaola allegedly diverted $40m meant for Special Forces kits
Also Saidu Usman Dakingari caught in N700 million fraud
In News Band review of high-profile corruption trials today, Mr. Azibaola Robert, a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan, was remanded over alleged diversion of $40 million meant for the supply of tactical communication kits for Special Forces.
We will also review how a former Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Saidu Usman Dakingari, was arraigned for N700 million fraud.
Robert Azibaola – $40 million money laundering
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja on June 7, 2016 ordered the remand of Mr. Azibaola Robert, a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan pending the determination of his bail application.
Azibaola and his wife, Stella, were arraigned alongside their company, One Plus Holding Limited on a seven 7-count charge bordering on money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The couple were alleged to have diverted $40 million (forty million US dollars) meant for the supply of tactical communication kits for Special Forces.
The money was reportedly transferred from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the domiciliary account of their company, One Plus Holdings.
They were arraigned on June 7, 2016, and were admitted to bail in the sum of N500 million each.
They were re-arraigned on April 27, 2017 on a nine-count amended charge.
In the course of the trial, the prosecution called 10 witnesses and tendered 27 documented evidences against the three parties and closed its case.
The court, on March 28, 2019, discharged and acquitted Aziboala’s wife on the premise that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie criminal charge against her.
Thereafter, Mr. Aziboala and One Plus Company were ordered to open their defence on the remaining two counts as Stella’s name was struck off the charge sheet.
He denied diverting money to his personal use. On February 6, 2019, his defence team led by Chris Uche closed its defence after calling two witnesses including Mr. Aziboala and presented several documents.
After the closure of all the hearings, the Federal High Court in Abuja in April 2019, dismissed the money laundering charges against Mr. Azibaola.
Delivering judgment on the case, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba discharged and acquitted Azibaola and his company, as he held that there were many doubts raised in the prosecution’s case which were not investigated and cleared.
The judge, Nnamdi Dimgba, accused the prosecutor of failing to produce former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki [retd.], as a witness.
Mr. Dasuki was in the custody of the Department of State Security (DSS).
Shortly after the judgment, EFCC said its legal team would study the judgment and take necessary actions to appeal it.
The EFCC expressed concern that despite the weight of evidence brought before the court and witnesses presented, Justice Dimgba held that “the prosecution must show directly how the defendant took possession of funds and knew that it formed part of proceeds of corruption”.
The case is awaiting EFCC’s appeal at the appellate court.
Saidu Usman Dakingari – N700 million fraud
Former Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Saidu Usman Dakingari, was charged with a 15-count charge for alleged N700million fraud before a Federal High Court in Birnin Kebbi.
The former governor was scheduled to be arraigned on June 20, 2018, but the arraignment could not be held because the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) was unable to serve him and the arraignment was adjourned till June 25, 2018.
Dakingari was charged alongside three others, Sunday Dogonyaro, Abdullahi Yelwa and Garba Rabiu Kamba, for allegedly receiving N700 million from the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani AlisonMadueke.
After some further adjournments, EFCC on December 6th, 2018, arraigned the former governor of Kebbi State, Usman Saidu Dakingari alongside two others before Honourable Justice Basse Onu of the Federal High Court sitting in Kebbi.
They were arraigned on a 13-count charge of Conspiracy and Money Laundering to the tune N450,000,000 (Four Hundred and Fifty Million Naira).
Dakingari was arraigned along with Sunday Dogonyaro and Garba Rabiu Kamba for allegedly conniving to collect the sum of N450 million.
The said sum formed part of the $115,000,000 (One Hundred and Fifteen Million Dollars) warehoused in Fidelity Bank and shared by the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deizani Alison-Madueke, for the purpose of influencing the 2015 general election.
The defendants pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them.
Counsel for the prosecution, Johnson Ojogbane, requested a date for trial in view of the plea of the defendants.
But counsels representing the defendants moved applications for bail on behalf of their clients and respectively urged the court to admit their clients to bail.
Ojogbane opposed the bail application with counter affidavits urging the court to refuse the application of the 1st and 2nd defendants.
He, however, did not oppose the bail application of the 3rd defendant who has been constantly reporting to court since the first time the case came up for the arraignment of the accused.
The first and second defendants on the other hand had initially refused to appear before the court even after the court threatened to issue a bench warrant for their arrest.
After listening to the arguments exchanged between the parties, Justice Onu adjourned the matter to December 10th, 2018, for ruling on bail application.
The defendants were ordered to be remanded in EFCC custody pending the outcome of the ruling on bail application.
They were eventually granted bail while trials commenced.