Alleged N84bn money laundering: EFCC files charges against Yahaya Bello, others

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed charges against former Kogi State governor Yahaya Adoza Bello, alongside his nephew Ali Bello, Dauda Sulaiman and Abdulsalam Hudu, for alleged N84 billion money laundering.

The case was initiated before James Omotosho of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja, on Thursday, March 14, 2024.

The EFCC is prosecuting the trio on an amended 17-count charge of money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N84,062,406,089.88 (Eighty-four Billion, Sixty-two Million, Four Hundred and Six Thousand, Eighty-nine Naira, Eighty-eight Kobo).


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To allow for Yahaya Bello’s inclusion in the trial, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, informed the court of an application to amend the charges against the defendants, dated February 5, 2024, and filed the same day. He then prayed that the amended charges be read to the defendants so they could take their pleas.

The judge granted the prayer, overruling objections from A.M Aliyu SAN and Olusegun Joolawo SAN, lawyers to Ali Bello and Suleiman, the first and second defendants.

Count one of the charges reads: “That you, Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman, Yahaya Adoza Bello (still at large) and Abdulsalam Hudu (still at large), sometime in September 2015 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves to convert the total sum of N80,246,470,089.88 (Eighty Billion, Two Hundred and Forty-six Million, Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand, Eighty-nine Naira, Eighty-eight Kobo), which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity to wit: criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(b) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended.”

According to a statement by the EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, while ex-Governor Bello and Hudu are still at large, Ali Bello and Suleiman, first and second defendants, respectively, who were present in court, “pleaded not guilty” to all the charges when they were read to them.

In continuation of the trial, EFCC lawyer Oyedepo invited the fourth Prosecution Witness, PW4, Yakubu Gana, counsel to the property owner and seller of a property located in Danube Street, Maitama, Abuja, which Ali Bello and Suleiman allegedly bought at the cost of N950million on behalf of ex-governor Yahaya Bello through their lawyer, Ramalan Jibril Abdullahi.






     

     

    “We negotiated and agreed on the sum of N950 million. Their lawyer, Ramalan Abdullahi, said his clients would prefer to pay in cash and dollars. I had to call my client to inform him because he was not in the country at that time. My client cautioned me whether I knew the buyers, and I answered that I knew their lawyer way back in secondary school.

    “The lawyer and the clients invited me into their office, a bureau de change office at Zone 4, adjacent to Sheraton, now Abuja Continental Hotel. They then showed me dollars in ‘Ghana Must Go,’ but the dollars in ‘Ghana must go’ were not up to that N950million. They said they would make it up by bringing some dollars to make it to N950 million. The transaction took us almost two weeks, and the lawyer invited me to the same BDC office for confirmation. The money was completed in dollar equivalent,” Gana said.

    In his testimony as the fifth prosecution witness, Abdullahi told the court that though he acted as a go-between in the purchase of the property, his major assignment was to carry out due diligence on the said property, which paved the way for its purchase by Ali Bello and Suleiman, his clients.

    Oyedepo requested the property’s title documents to enable him to tender them in evidence. However, Omotosho ordered him to apply to the defendants formally and thereafter adjourned the matter to March 28, 2024, for the continuation of trial.

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