An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) witness, Bashir Mohammed, on Wednesday contradicted himself on his claim that he gave former President Olusegun Obasanjo the naira equivalent of $140,000.
Mohammed admitted before a Federal High Court in Lagos that he made extra-judicial statements wherein he stated that he gave the money to “one man” whose identity he did not know.
The statements were admitted by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke.
Mohammed is the first prosecution witness in the trial of Abdulahi Babalele, said to be son-in-law of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Babalele is on trial for allegedly laundering $140,000 in the build-up to the 2019 general elections.
The EFCC arraigned him on two counts of money laundering in August.
It claimed he procured Mohammed “to make a cash payment of $140,000 without going through any financial institution.”
EFCC prosecutor Rotimi Oyedepo said the money exceeded the threshold stipulated by the money laundering Act.
The February 20, 2019 transaction contravened Sections 18 (c) and (2)(b)of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, Oyedepo said.
Babalele pleaded not guilty.
When the EFCC opened its case against Babalele on Monday, Mohammed testified that he delivered the sum to the former president at his Abeokuta, Ogun State home.
But, under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), the defendant affirmed that he wrote several statements at the EFCC’s office during investigation.
At the commencement of proceedings yesterday, Ozekhome resumed cross examination of the witness,
He directed Mohammed to read from one of the extra judicial statements made to the EFCC on March 11.
Mohammed read out loud: “I collected the dollars cash from Dan Asabe and I called Abdullahi and he told me to take the money to Ogun State to Obasanjo’s library.”
“When I got to the library, I met a man who asked if I am Bashir and I said yes. He asked: where is the message from Abdullahi? And I gave him the money. I don’t know the name of the person I gave the money but I can identify the office. “
Ozekhome contended that the defence had established that the witness had contradicted his evidence of Monday.
He said: “Yesterday, you said you gave Obasanjo $140,000 personally in his house, but in this your statement today, you wrote that you gave the money to a man in the library that you don’t even know his name.
“You told the court yesterday that you changed N50,400,000 that was transferred to you but in your statement we have seen N53million and N52.5million that was transferred to you. “
The judge adjourned further proceedings till January 29.