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N4.6bn ONSA fund shared to organise prayers against insecurity – EFCC witness

An operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Kazeem Yusuf, has told a Federal Capital Territory High Court that N4.6bn was allegedly diverted to organise prayers for Nigeria.

Yusuf spoke on Tuesday while testifying as the second prosecution witness in the trial of a former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda.

Yuguda is standing trial alongside Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser; Attahiru Bafarawa, ex-governor of Sokoto State; his son Sagir, and Dalhatu Investment Limited, a company owned by Bafarawa.

The defendants are facing 25 counts of misappropriation, criminal breach of trust and receiving stolen property.

In 2016,  Dasuki had filed a fresh application asking a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama to discharge him for the alleged crime of diversion of funds said to be meant for the procurement of arms.

Led in evidence by EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, the witness (Yusuf) said an investigation was carried out after the commission received a petition from the office of the NSA.

The EFCC counsel noted that the investigation revealed that, “Dalhatu Investment Limited was one of the 78 companies alleged to have received money from ONSA without any documents to show that they bided for contracts.”

Yusuf said an analysis of the statement of account of Dalhatu Investment Limited by EFCC from UBA revealed that the company got N4.6 billion from ONSA.

Speaking further, he added that the amount was paid in instalments between 2014 and 2015, noting that N783m, being part of the money, came from the SAS account.

Yusuf said in a written statement, that Sagir, who represented the company, told the EFCC that, “the money was meant for prayers for the country because of the insecurity prevalent at that time.”

He added that Sagir later gave a breakdown of how the N4.6bn was spent, including a list of beneficiaries.

The witness said Abdallah Wali, a former senator, who received N580m from the company, told the EFCC that the money was meant for his governorship election campaign in Sokoto in 2015.

He also told the EFCC team that Muazu Madawaki, former Secretary of the Pilgrims and Welfare Agency in Sokoto, received N322m, which he claimed was for payment of Hajj seats for some Sokoto indigenes.

The witness said other beneficiaries listed include Ibrahim Maigoma, former Sokoto chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, who received N111m; Yahaya Dada N327,549,000; Sani Kabir N159m; INEC N293,500,000, among others.

The witness added that the money received by Wali was sent through a company, Development Strategies International Limited, owned by Islam Wali and Mohammed Wali, who are cousins to the former senator.

The witness told the court that parts of the money meant for supplies of security equipment, including hand-held devices, were used to procure a Lexus car, a Hilux van and 16 Peugeot 206 cars which were distributed to PDP local government chairmen in Sokoto.

However, he stated that 14 of the Peugeot 206 vehicles were recovered in the course of the investigation.

The witness said one Amanze Obi received N15.3 million for political publicity for Bafawara’s 2015 presidential campaign.

He further told the court that about £123,000 was transferred to a bank in the United Kingdom to offset a mortgage for Bafarawa while N1billion went to Bureau de Change to convert to dollars.

Yusuf added that the defendants were invited by EFCC for interviews and statements, noting that they all showed up at the commission’s headquarters and volunteered their statements.

When the prosecuting counsel sought to tender Sagir’s statements through the witness, his lawyer, J.O Olatoke, objected to their admissibility on the ground that they were not voluntarily obtained.

His lawyer told the court that the statements were made based on inducement, intimidation, receipt and invitation to settlement.

He prayed the court to grant them trial-within-trial to determine the voluntariness of the statements.

Based on the request, Yusuf Halilu, the presiding judge, ordered a trial-within-trial to determine the voluntariness of the statements made by Sagir.

The judge subsequently adjourned the trial till  February 14.

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