The trial of Azibaola Robert, a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan began on Tuesday, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, presenting its first witness, Ibrahim Mahe who gave account of how he transferred $40m to ‘One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited’, a company owned by Robert.
Azibaola and his wife, Stella, are standing trial before Justice Nnamdi O. Dimgba of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, for seven counts bordering on money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption.
Mahe, a retired permanent secretary, special services in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, while being led in evidence by counsel for the EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, told the court that he did not know Azibaola and Stella personally but knew ‘One Plus Holdings’ through a transaction.
The witness said on August 20, 2014, Dasuki told him to pay $40m into the account of One Plus Holdings for reasons unknown.
He said, “on August 20, 2014, the National Security Adviser endorsed a memo to me which originated from the Office of the Director of Finance and Administration of the ONSA detailing the bank details of one company called ‘One Plus’ and the purpose for which the company was to be paid a sum of $40m.
“The NSA instructed me to prepare payment and I prepared the payment mandate for the $40m in favour of ‘One Plus’ for the signature of the NSA. I sent it to the NSA, he signed and sent it back to me and subsequent action was for me to counter-sign the mandate and then send it to the Central Bank of Nigeria for Payment.”
Mahe had earlier told the court that his responsibilities involved matters that had to do with the ONSA. He said that the Special Services Office responsibilities in relation with the ONSA had to do with matters relating to finances of the entire intelligence community which included the Department of State Services, National Intelligence Agency and ONSA.
According to him, permanent secretary, Special Security Office was responsible for co-ordination of the annual budget of the members of the intelligence community.
“After formulating the budget, the Accountant General releases the funds of the intelligence community through an account that is domiciled with the Special Security Office from where it is distributed to the various end users,” Mahe added.
He told the court that his office served as a warehouse for funds of the ‘Intelligence Community’ and went further to explain how funds were utilised.
“When funds get into the account, the NSA is informed of the arrival of the funds and proposal on the distribution to the various agencies is made to him. When he approves, the monies are sent to the end users,” said Mahe.
The judge adjourned the case till July 4 and 5, 2016 for continuation of trial.