Justice James Kolawole Omotosho of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja, has remanded Ali Bello, a nephew of Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello and one Dauda Sulaiman in prison pending the fulfillment of their bail conditions.
They were arraigned alongside one Abdulsalami Hudu, Cashier of Kogi State House Administration (now at large) on a 10-count charge of misappropriation and money laundering.
According to a statement by Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC spokesman, Bello and Sulaiman are accused of fraudulently withdrawing a sum of N10, 270,556,800 from the Kogi State treasury, which they reportedly delivered to a Bureau de Change operator, Rabiu Tafada, in Abuja to keep or change to foreign currencies for personal gains.
The charges read in part: “That you, ALI BELLO, DAUDA SULEIMAN AND ABDULSALAMI 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, 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.
“That you, ALI BELLO, DAUDA SULEIMAN AND ABDULSALAMI HUDU (NOW AT LARGE) between January and December 2021, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court aided RABIU USMAN TAFADA to retain the total sum of N2,509,650,000.00, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity to wit: Criminal Misappropriation from the treasury of Kogi State Government and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 18 (a) 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act”.
The accused however pleaded “not guilty” to the charges preferred against them by the EFCC.
In view of their pleas, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), asked the court to fix a date for the commencement of trial.
Counsel for the second and third defendants, Abdulwahab Mohammed (SAN), informed the court of his application for the bail of the defendants.
Justice Omotosho admitted the defendants to bail in the sum N1billion each and two sureties who are to provide a bond of N2billion each and have a landed property valued at N500 million.
As part of the bail conditions, the title of the properties shall be registered with the chief registrar of the court; each of the sureties and the defendants shall submit their bank statements and international passports to the chief registrar of the court.
The sureties must also produce an affidavit of means and evidence of tax clearance for at least three years.
The judge thereafter sent the defendants to Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja pending the fulfillment of their bail conditions and adjourned the matter till February 6, 2023 for hearing.
Meanwhile, the Kogi State Government has debunked the allegation of money laundering, describing the move as a sustenance of the persecution of the government by the anti-graft agency.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kinsley Fanwo, disclosed this on Thursday in a statement to newsmen in Lokoja.
Fanwo said, “Our attention has been drawn to a press statement on the website of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to the effect that they arraigned some persons who they alleged were linked with laundering monies belonging to the Government of Kogi State.
“The media trial by the EFCC is a calculated and orchestrated plan to embarrass the State Government by going after its officials and associates with trumped up charges to satisfy the destructive fangs of their paymasters”.
According to Evangelist Fanwo, the state government has “observed that the Commission, with its present allegations, had shown clearly that it was desperately seeking to save its face after the Commission hit a road block in its N20bn Sterling Bank media trial”.
He insisted that no money belonging to the Kogi State Government was laundered, wondering why anti graft agency was beaming its corruption searchlight presistently on Kogi State.
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