The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday opened its case against Abdullahi Babalele, son-in-law of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, accused of laundering $140,000 in the build-up to the 2019 general elections.The trial began before Justice C.J. Aneke at the Federal High Court in Lagos with the testimony of one Bashir Mohammed, who described himself as a close friend of Babalele.Mohammed, who was led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, narrated to the court how he delivered the naira equivalent of $140,000 to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Babalele’s instructions.
Obasanjo endorsed Atiku, who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party ahead of the February 23 presidential election.But Atiku lost the election to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress.Mohammed said he received a phone call from Babalele sometime in February, requesting him to deliver a message to “an elder statesman”.He said on Babalele’s request he supplied two bank accounts, which were credited
The witness said he took the money to Obasanjo’s residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State.“When I got to the gate, somebody came and took me inside where I met former President Olusegun Obasanjo and delivered the message.“I called the defendant in the presence of former President Obasanjo and informed him that I had delivered the message. He said that was good and thanked me,” Mohammed said.
Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mohammed affirmed that he wrote a statement at the EFCC office during investigation.Ozekhome’s bid to tender the statement as an exhibited was, however, opposed by the prosecutor.Justice Aneke adjourned till Wednesday to rule on the admissibility of the statement.The EFCC arraigned Babalele on two counts of money laundering in August.
He was accused of “procuring Bashir Mohammed to make a cash payment of $140,000 without going through any financial institution”.Oyedepo said the money exceeded the threshold stipulated by the money laundering law.He said Babalele made the transaction on February 20, 2019 in contravention of Section 18 (c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and was liable to be punished under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.