The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday, called its third witness in a Federal High Court Lagos, in the trial of Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, facing money laundering charges.
Nwoboshi, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, is the senator representing Delta North senatorial district in the National Assembly.
EFCC had re-arraigned him on October 5, 2018, before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, along with Golden Touch Construction Projects Ltd, and Suiming Electricals for alleged N322 million money laundering.
The senator, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The charge which was formerly before Justice Mohammed Idris, is now before Aneke, following the elevation of the former to the Court of Appeal.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Friday, Mr. O. Falaye appeared for the prosecution, while Messrs G.A Mowa, C.K Mmarkwe, and I.O Aniakor appeared for the first to third defendants.
Falaye informed the court that the prosecution had filed additional proof of evidence with respect to its witness, adding that he was ready to proceed.
He then called the third prosecution witness, Mr. Eyituoyo Mogbeyiterem, a compliance officer with Zenith Bank Plc.
Mogbeyiterem said he joined Zenith Bank in September 2018, and his schedule of duty included liaising with law enforcement agencies, as well as appearing in court on behalf of the bank when necessary.
He told the court that with respect to the current charge, he was appearing as a representative of the bank and had no personal interest whatsoever.
The witness testified that he knew the first and third defendants; and that the third defendant was a customer of Zenith Bank, who had a corporate account domiciled in Asaba Branch.
“The first defendant was introduced to the bank, as the Managing Director of the third defendant, as per the account opening document,” he said.
He told the court that he examined the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the account opening package of the third defendant, certified by one John Olorun Dare, also a compliance officer with Zenith Bank.
He said that he also called for the originals of the document from the Asaba Branch, which he compared, and found to be the same.
The witness told the court that the account was opened sometime in 2013.
He told the court that the CTC and the statement of account in the bank’s database were same, adding that he assessed same from the head office, which had a central storage system.
The witness also told the court that he had given statement to the EFCC in relation to the charge.
The prosecution then sought to tender the document before the court but the defence counsel, raised objection on grounds that there was no sufficient evidence from the said document by the witness.
He also objected that the document had no title, and that the signatory to the document was not the witness, and so, he could not answer to a document to which he was not its author.
Besides, Mowa said that the letter submitted to the commission was not a certified true copy, adding that the witness was not also the author.
On that ground, he urged the court to reject the document and mark same as tendered and rejected.
Other defence counsel aligned themselves with the submission of Mowa.
In response, the prosecutor urged the court to allow the witness tender the document as sufficient facts has been adduced.
After listening to the respective counsel, Aneke adjourned the case till October 4 and November 1 continuation of trial and ruling.
Meanwhile, the court has also granted an application for release of the International passport of the defendant, for medical travel overseas.
In the charge, the prosecution alleged that Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Projects, purchased a 12-storey property known as Guinea House on Marine Road in Apapa, Lagos for N805 million between May and June 2014.
The anti-graft agency claimed that N322 million out of the N805 million was part of proceeds of “an unlawful act and fraud.”
The EFCC alleged that the N322 million was transferred to the property’s vendor on the order of Suiming Electricals, which was accused of aiding Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Projects to commit money laundering on or about May 14, 2014.
EFCC said that Nwaoboshi, with the proceeds, bought the 12-floor building from Delta State Government at N805 million in the name of Golden Touch Construction Projects.
The commission said that the Senator had no visible legitimate business venture to generate the amount spent to purchase the said property.
The alleged offence contravenes the provisions of sections 15(2) (d) and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.