The trial of the cousin of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Azibaola Robert, and his wife, Stella, over laundering of $40 million cash began in earnest, with all witnesses called by the Economic and Financial Commission, EFCC yesterday, denying knowledge of the couple.
Rather, they admitted transacting business with his firm, Oneplus, which was reportedly awarded the contract for the supply of Strategic Communications kits by the Office of the national Security Adviser in 2014.
The witnesses, mostly commercial bank officials, summoned by the EFCC as prosecution witnesses, told Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court Abuja, that they did not know or do any business with the defendants.
The witnesses who testified on Friday were Mohammed Abdurazak Bello, Confidence Onabu Iwade and Remiginus Ugwu, who all confessed not knowing the couple.
Prosecution witness 5 (PW5) Folashade Ibrahim, a branch manager with Wema Bank, said that she did not know or do any business with Robert or his wife, Stella, and that they were not beneficiaries of the money she disbursed from the accounts of Tunji Adeniyi & Co, a property firm owned and managed by Tunji Adeniyi.
Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Gordy Uche of what she knew Robert and his wife, Stella, Ibrahim replied: “No. I don’t even know them. And they are not part of the beneficiaries of the transfers from the account of Tunji & Co,”
In his testimony, PW6, MOHAMMED ABDULRAZAK BELLO, who is the Managing Director of BDC SAFEWAY CLEAN EXCHANGE, said, “I don’t know the man, I don’t know the lady”, referring to Aziboala and Stella Robert, but I have dealt with Oneplus Holdings.”
“The transaction between me and the Zenith Bank officials is legal; there is nothing illegal about it.
“The Zenith Bank officials told me that the bank did not have enough dollar cash and asked me to source dollar from the black market for them. In all we transacted $6.6m. At times I paid Naira into an account provided by Amobi (Zenith Bank official) KAMARUDEEN DAHIRU.
“All these transactions were handled between, Amobi Odum, Obinna AMAECHI and Nnadozie. In my statement I did say I have never met One plus Holdings Nigeria Limited.”
Also testifying, CONFIDENCE IWADE, a marketer with CAPITALFIELD ENERGY & ALLIED SERVICE, admitted: “I don’t know them (referring to Robert and Stella) but my office had had dealing with Oneplus Holdings sometimes in 2014. ”
“We had transaction of $2m which Oneplus paid into my company’s account and the Naira equivalent paid into Kamarudeen Dahiru’s account. And this is a normal, legal business and which my company has also done with other companies.”
In the same vein, REMEGIUS UGWU, a compliance officer with Zenith Bank, submitted, “Personally I don’t know them (referring to Azibaola and Stella Robert), but I know Oneplus Holdings.”
The statements of the witnesses were however admiited by the judge. The Prosecution led by SYLVANUS TAHIR, submitted that they agency intended to call no fewer than 13 witnesses to prove its case against the defendants, adding that eight had so far been called to testify.
Trial adjourned to June 20 and 21.