How bank bribed ex-minister with Abuja property –EFCC

How bank bribed ex-minister with Abuja property –EFCC

The prosecution witness in the on-going trial of a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, yesterday told an Abuja High Court that the defendant received a property at highbrow Asokoro from a bank. The Federal Government is prosecuting Mohammed on a six-count charge bordering on false declaration of assets and graft to the tune of N864 million.

The witness, Ishaya Dauda, a Senior Detective Superintendent with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), while being led in evidence by the agency’s counsel, Ben Ikani, said that the defendant received a property at Asokoro as bribe from Aso Savings and Loans. Dauda added that the former minister, on the request of Aso Savings, had relocated Abuja Urban Mass Transit from its plot at Mpape area along Kubwa express.

He further stated that Aso Savings and Loans Ltd had stood as guarantor to Abuja Urban Mass Transit when the outfit obtained a loan of N1.8 billion from the former Oceanic Bank for the acquisition of new buses.

Dauda said Abuja Urban Mass Transit had defaulted in repayment of the loan, which led to Aso Savings being made to clear the debt. “For Aso Savings to be able to recover their money from Abuja Mass Transit, they requested from the then FCT minister to relocate Abuja Urban Mass Transit to another place.

“This was to enable Aso Savings and Loans Ltd take over the land. They now bought the Asokoro property for the defendant in appreciation,” the witness said. The witness stated that to confirm the claim, they had invited the former Managing Director of Aso Savings, Hassan Usman and the former Executive Director, Marketing, Maimuna Aliyu, to make statements.

He said they also invited the seller of the said Asokoro property, Ifeanyi Ihejirika and Ogechi Nwaduke, who gave statements in their office. Dauda also said that when the defendant was questioned about the property, he initially refused to make statements.

Other properties allegedly belonging to the former minister, which he did not declare in the Asset Declaration Form given by EFCC, include a property at the Three Arms Zone, Abuja and a plot of land in Kaduna. The prosecution, however, tendered the statements made by the defendant to EFCC in court, which was admitted and marked as exhibit A.

The other exhibit tendered, marked and admitted as exhibit B, was the EFCC Asset Declaration Form. However, the witness, under cross-examination by defence counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), told the court that in the course of investigations, no government money was traced to Mohammed’s account. He admitted that the former minister was arraigned based on an intelligent report by the Commission and not on a petition.

Dauda added that though the work of the Commission was based on petitions and intelligence reports, the petition against the minister came first, adding that investigation had not been concluded in respect of the petition. Upon further questioning on the source of the intelligence report, the witness said he would not disclose the source.

The trial judge, Justice Abubakar Talba later adjourned further trial to February 12, 2018.

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