By Tony Orilade, Ag. Head, media & Publicity, EFCC.
A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nurudeen Bello, in the alleged N2.8billion fraud trial involving Ibrahim Abdul-salam, former Managing Director of Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, and others, on Friday, May 3, 2019, told Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how the defendants looted, laundered and converted to their personal use N2.8billion, belonging to the agency.
Abdul-Salam is facing trial alongside Nnamdi Udoh (still at large), Adegorite Olumuyiwa, Segun Agbolade, Clara Aliche, Joy Ayodele Adegorite, Randville Invesment Limited and Multeng Travels and Tours Limited for conspiring to induce the agency to deliver the sum of N2.8billion to Delosa Limited, Air Sea Delivery Limited and Sea Schedule Systems Limited under the pretext that the money represented the cost of clearing NAMA’s consignments.
At today’s sitting, Bello, an investigator with the EFCC, who was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, identified the statements of the third defendant written on February 15, 16, 18, 22 and 24, 2016 as well as on March 12, 2016.
Bello also identified the responses to the letters written by the EFCC to the Nigerian Customs Services, NCS.
The prosecution counsel tendered the statements of the third defendant, which were admitted in evidence as exhibits E 1-7 and F, respectively.
When asked to read out the statement of account of Randville Invesment Limited, the witness listed various sums of money received by Belosa, withdrawn from NAMA account.
According to Bello: “The money was transferred to Randville Investment, which shared them among Multeng Travels and Tours Limited, Multeng Engineering, Multeng Aviation, NNPC Retail Limited, Airspace Delivery and some Bureau De Change operators.
“Cash withdrawals were mostly done by Segun Agbolade and Joy Ayodele Adegorite, for onward transfer to Segun Agbolade. Also, some cash payments were made to Mr. Alaba Odulani.”
Further in his testimony, Bello told the court that less than N9, 000,000.00 was transferred in tranches in one day and several days in different months.
This, he said, “was done to avoid triggering the reporting requirements of banks, if the money transferred was up to N10, 000,000.00.”
The witness also stated that withdrawals made by Agbolade amounted to N3million in tranches, adding that “the transfers to Multeng Travel and Tours, Multeng Engineering, Multeng Aviation were made in order to facilitate withdrawals because of the cashless policy introduced by the CBN.”
According to him, “Several millions transferred to the NNPC Retail Limited were to supply petroleum products to the filling station owned by Agbolade.
“The money transferred from Randville Invesment Limited to Mr. Odulani was for the purchase of a filling station in Egbeda, Lagos State.”
Bello had, during the previous sitting on Thursday, May 2, 2019, told the court that, on February 5, 2016, his team was assigned to investigate a petition against the defendant.
The prosecution counsel tendered the petition and the attachments which were admitted in evidence as Exhibits D.
Explaining what he did after receiving the petition, he said: “My team and I wrote to the bank, requesting the financial records of all the defendants. We also wrote to the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, to obtain the records of importation made by the Nigeria Airspace Agency, NAMA, from 2010 to 2016.
“We wrote to Guaranty Trust Bank, attaching the NCS’s acknowledgement of payment receipt, seeking the authentication obtained by the bank. We received all the responses and same were analyzed.
“We proceeded to NAMA office, within Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, where we conducted extensive search and invited some of the defendants to the EFCC office.”
Also, when asked to identify exhibits A-C series and why the team wrote to the bank, he said the exhibits were some of the responses his team received from the letters sent to the bank.
“We wrote to the NCS based on the petition and subsequent investigations carried out. Various documents were analyzed and it was discovered that the sum of N2.8billion was carted away from the account of the National Airspace Management Agency by the defendants.
“The money was transferred at various times to the accounts of Randville Invesment Limited, Multeng Travels and Tours Limited, Air Sea Delivery Limited and Sea Schedule Systems Limited, belonging to some of the defendants and diverted for personal use under the pretext of using the said money for clearing of imported items for NAMA.”
The case was adjourned to June 13 and 14, 2019 for continuation of trial.