BREAKING NEWS: Court frees Jonathan’s cousin charged with laundering $40m

A Federal High Court in Abuja has freed a cousin of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Robert Azibaola, charged with money laundering to the tune of $40million.

Azibaola and his firm, One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited were charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with money laundering offences for allegedly receiving the sum of $40m from the Office of the then National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, in September 2014 for the “supply of tactical communication equipment”, a job the prosecution alleged was not done.

In a judgment on Monday, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba discharged and acquitted the defendants on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove its case against the defendants.

Justice Dimgba was of the view that the prosecution failed to contradict the explanation given by the defendants as to how the funds were expended.

The judge said the prosecution failed to fault the explanation by the defendant that the actual purpose for which the ONSA paid the $40m was concealed as “supply of tactical communication equipment” as was the practice in security management.

Justice Dimgba noted that the defendants, at trial, led both oral and documentary evidence, to the effect that the money was actually meant to be paid to Niger Delta militants, who were in the business of oil bunkering in other to achieve peace in the region and boost oil revenue in the country.

He noted that the defendants also provided evidence in support of their claim that the militants were actually paid and called one of them to testify that he received payment from the defendants, following which left the oil bunkering business.

The judge also noted that the defendants tendered vouchers to show that they equally paid other militant groups from the funds provided by the ONSA.

Justice Dimgba faulted the prosecution for not calling either Dasuki or officials of ONSA as its witness. He also wondered why Dasuki was not charged in the case.

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