A Federal High Court on Tuesday ordered the release of processes and documents in the money laundering trial of former Minister of State for Finance Nenadi Esther Usman and others to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, made an application before Justice Daniel Osiagor, to release all documentary evidence or processes in the suit, following the decision of an appellate court.
Usman is charged alongside former Minister of Aviation Femi Fani-Kayode and Yusuf Danjuma, a former chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
Also charged is a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd.
EFCC had proffered a 17-count charge bordering on N4.6 billion money laundering against them before a former judge, Justice Mohammed Aikawa.
The defendants had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.
The trial had begun before Justice Aikawa and witnesses were still being led in evidence, until Aikawa was transferred out of the Lagos division.
The charge was consequently, re-assigned to a new judge, Justice Daniel Osaigor, and they were consequently, re-arraigned on Jan. 24, 2022.
Again, the trial commenced in the case and witnesses were still giving evidence before the court.
However, following an appeal filed by Usman, seeking a transfer of the case on jurisdictional grounds, the court of appeal gave a ruling in favour of the defendant.
When the case was called on Tuesday, Oyedepo announced an appearance for the prosecution, and informed the court of the appellate court’s decision, directing that the case be transferred to the Abuja division of the court.
He also informed the court that it is still the case of the prosecution adding that the prosecution is still leading evidence as PW 1 was still testifying.
He, consequently, sought an application for the release of all documentary evidence and exhibits in the case to the prosecution, to save time and avoid delay.
In a short ruling, Justice Osiagor held that in line with the decision of the appellate court, all documentary evidence as well as exhibits tendered, should be released to the prosecution.
In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015 in Lagos.
They were alleged to have at various times unlawfully retained over N4.6 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of unlawful acts of stealing and corruption.
Meanwhile, in counts 15 to 17 Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke, who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million, in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
The said payments were alleged to have been made to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
All offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.