by Dolapo Adelana
A prosecution witness, Goji Mohammed, on Tuesday, said operatives of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, recovered $1m during a raid conducted on the house of a former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, who is standing trial along Iyalikam Nigeria Limited on a 10-count charge bordering on money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption to the tune of N3.97 billion.
Badeh allegedly abused his office as CDS by using the dollar equivalent of the sum of N1.4billion removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force to purchase properties in choice areas of Abuja between January and December, 2013.
Mohammed, who testified as PW15, told Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja that, he was a member of the Special Task Force, STF, team whose mandate was to investigate cases reported to the Commission from the NSA’s office.
Led in evidence by Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, Mohammed said, “I was instructed to conduct a search by the Head of the STF ‘Team B’ on a property belonging to the defendant (Badeh) located at No 2b Nelson Mandela Street, Asokoro Abuja”.
According to him, “In early February 2016, the defendant was brought out of detention facility to witness the search on his property and his assistant was also present. The search was conducted and a lot of documents including landed property documents, bank account documents were recovered. We also discovered that some of the furniture in the house contained the defendant’s name. We took record of the items after which the Investigating Officer, IO, signed and the defendant counter-signed.”
The witness shed more light on how the second search was conducted with the help of an intelligence report received on another property belonging to the Badeh which is located at No. 6, Ogun River street, Maitama, Abuja.
“In the report, there were allegations of many cars including SUV salon parked within the premises of the building. Getting to the building, we discovered it was empty, no cars, no security personnel”, Mohammed said.
He explained how they entered the house through the balcony as the front security door and the back door were all locked. He also narrated how all the rooms were searched one after another.
“In the upstairs, we discovered the biggest room which has a bed with side drawers and a large wardrobe. In one of the wardrobes, at the upper compartment, there was a pack of kettle, as we opened it, we saw the bag filled with money in Dollars (USD) and we counted the money which is in 16 bundles of $50,000 each. We also found two sealed bundles of $100,000 each, giving a total of one million dollars”, said Mohammed.
The PW15 told the court that a red box containing a knife which had an encrypted name and 2 way bills of furniture supplied to the building were also recovered. He added that the security of the house was around when the search was conducted.
Jacobs sought to tender the search warrant, red box as well as the 2 way bills in evidence but was objected by counsel to the defendant, Lasun Sanusi, SAN, who prayed to be obliged with copies of the documents and urged the court to adjourn the matter in order for him to ask his client questions on it.
Responding, Jacobs argued that the defence counsel had enough notice as it was number 20 on the list filed on February 26, 2016. He craved the indulgence of the court to show the video clip of how the search was conducted.
Furthermore, Sanusi opposed the admissibility of the way bill and the red box. He urged the court to reject it adding that they were irrelevant as the search was conducted without the defendant in presence.
But, Jacobs cited Section 149 and 150 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2016 adding that, search warrant is to be made in front of two witnesses and the person the warrant is addressed to. He went further to explain how the witness can be any one in the neighbourhood.
Justice Abang adjourned the trial to February 23, 2017.