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Alleged N10 billion Fraud: Banker Concludes Testimony against ex-Kogi Governor Bello’s Nephew

After failed attempts to bring the former governor to court to answer the 19 counts, the trial judge, Emeka Nwite, on 13 June, fixed 27 June as a new date for arraignment

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday adjourned the money laundering case involving Ali Bello, a nephew of former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello, until 15 July.

This was after the sixth prosecution witness, a banker, concluded his testimony against Ali and his co-defendant, Daudu Sulaiman.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed the charges in 2022, accusing the two defendants of fraud involving the alleged diversion of N10 billion from the Kogi State Government coffers.

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The case is separate but related to the recent one the EFCC filed against Mr Bello after he finished his second term as the Kogi State governor in January.

In the case, EFCC accused former Governor Bello of money laundering involving N80 billion, which he allegedly diverted from the Kogi State treasury during his eight years in office. The agency named Ali and his co-defendant, Mr Suleiman, as accomplices in the case.

After failed attempts to bring the former governor to court to answer the 19 counts, the trial judge, Emeka Nwite, on 13 June, fixed 27 June as a new date for arraignment.

On Thursday, the trial continued in the case of Ali and his co-defendant before trial judge, James Omotosho, with the defence cross-examining a prosecution witness, Olom Otane Egoro, an Access Bank staff member.

Earlier on 6 May, EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), led Mr Egoro, an official of the compliance unit of the bank, in evidence as the sixth prosecution witness (PW6).

In his evidence-in-chief, the banker told the court that the bank received a letter from the EFCC requesting account statements of the Kogi Government House from 2018 to 2021.

He said the commission also asked for other documents, including the account opening mandate for the account and certificate of compliance regarding the printouts.

The witness thereafter went through the account statement detailing the various electronic and cash deposits and withdrawals on the account under review.

Mr Egoro identified withdrawals of N10 million each in different tranches.

The witness, however, did not give details, including who deposited the funds, the purposes of the deposits and at whose instance they withdrew the funds, before concluding his testimony.

Mr Oyedepo tendered the bank documents through the witness. The court admitted them in evidence accordingly.

During the cross-examination of the witness by Ali’s lawyer, Abubakar Aliyu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Egoro admitted there was no lodgement or withdrawal linked to the former Kogi State governor Bello in the bank documents.

The witness equally admitted that the staff of the compliance unit of the bank were not responsible for running and maintaining the bank’s servers which generated the bank transactions’ details.

He added that it was the duty of the bank’s ICT Department to manage the bank servers.

The lawyer to the co-defendant, Mr Suleiman, Olusegun Jolaawo, also a SAN, equally cross-examined the sixth prosecution witness.

After the defence counsel completed their cross-examination, the judge, Mr Omotosho, discharged Mr Egoro from the witness box and adjourned the matter until 15 July 15 and 16 July for continuation of trial.

It would be recalled that Ali Bello and Dauda Suleiman, in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/550/2022, are standing trial on a 10-count charge bordering on money laundering brought against them by the anti-graft agency.

(NAN)

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