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N2bn fraud: EFCC arraigns Babangida, chief of staff in court



Former governor of Niger state, Alhaji Babangida Aliyu, was at the Federal High Court, sitting in Minna on Monday with Umar Nasko, his chief of staff over an alleged N2 billion fraud.

The case is being tried before Justice Yalim S Bogoro.

Bogoro adjourned the case to February 20, 2018 after the court heard the arguments of the prosecution and defence counsels.

Aliyu is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside his chief of staff, Umar Nasko, on an 8-count charge of abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.

A statement by the EFCC said: “the money, which was said to be part of ecological funds released by the federal government to the state in 2014, was allegedly diverted by the former governor for political purposes.”

The offence, the statement said, is contrary to section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same act.

The defence counsels under the claim that they could not understand the statement made by PW1, Saidu Nma-Aba Idris, before the EFCC. Nasko’s counsel, Mamman Mike Osuman, said that he could not decipher the statement of the PW1, a position which Aliyu’s counsel, Olajide Ayodele, also aligned himself with.

Osuman reportedly said: “My lord, this gentleman’s purported statement before the EFCC is contained on a page within the ambit of proof of evidence.

“We are not able to decipher this statement. We can’t read it; we can’t understand it and a criminal matter is not supposed to be an ambush.”

In his response, the counsel to the EFCC, Ben S Ikani, vehemently opposed the submissions of the two colleagues arguing: “The PW1 is the primary evidence as required by law, and his statement was served on the defence, six months ago.

“What the law always looks for is primary evidence. And who is the primary evidence here! It is the witness himself, of course.

“For goodness sake my Lord, six months after the proof of evidence has been served on the defendants, they did not say anythin

“They ought to have put across to the prosecution the question of whether the statement is readable or not before now.

“None of them complained, and they waited till this time when prosecution is ready to open its case and the court is ready to go on.”

While adjourning the case, Justice Bogoro ordered the prosecution to make and serve on the defence, copies of all the statements of the PW1, so that trial can progress.

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