The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned the money-laundering trial of Ali Bello, a nephew to ex-governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, and one Abdulsalam Hudu after a Bureau de Change (BDC) operator, Rabiu Tafada, testified in the matter.
Bello, who is the chief of staff to the current Kogi State Governor, Usman Dodo, and Hudu were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 10-count charge bordering on misappropriation and money laundering.
Part of the charge reads “One of the counts reads: “That you, Ali Bello, Dauda Sulaiman and Abdulsalam Hudu (now at large), between January and December 2021, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court procured Rabiu Usman Tafada to take possession of the total sum of N5,865,756,800 (five billion, eight hundred and sixty-five million, seven hundred and fifty-six thousand, eight hundred naira), which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: criminal misappropriation from the treasury of Kogi State and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 18 (c), 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
But the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the resumption of the hearing on Tuesday, the BDC operator, Tafada, led in evidence by the prosecution legal team headed by Rotimi Oyedepo, testified in Hausa language while an official of the court interpreted in English.
Under cross-examination by the second defendants’ lawyer, Nureini Jimoh, the witness was asked to confirm if he knew Ali Bello and Hudu.
“I know Ali Bello and he knows me,” he replied, adding he cannot remember who is Hudu.
The witness was given a record book as an exhibit, which he confirmed belonged to his office.
He was asked to confirm if he was the one who wrote on it.
“I am not the one. My boys in the office usually enter the record,” he said, adding that he is not educated hence his boys record transactions in the book.
He explained that he was not always available in his shop because he had to visit his aged father being the eldest in the family.
According to the witness, the book contains records of money lent out and foreign exchange dealings.
After his testimony, the witness was discharged from the witness box.
Justice James Omotosho subsequently adjourned proceedings to February 22 and 23 for the continuation of hearing.
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