Jonathan’s cousin, Azibaola closes defense in alleged $40m fraud.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, Mr. Robert Azibaola has closed his defense in alleged $40 million fraud charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
His defense team led by Chris Uche (SAN) presented two witnesses before closing its case on February 6, 2019.
Azibaola and his company, One Plus Holdings, are facing a two-count charge of money laundering, as well as criminal breach of trust and corruption before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
They allegedly received $40 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) under Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) without signing any contract agreement.
Testifying as the first defense witness, Azibaola, under cross-examination by prosecuting counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, on February 5, 2019, admitted that there was no formal contract between his company and ONSA.
He also told the Court that his company wrote to the NSA, saying: “It was not a memo to initiate the agreement, but to carry out an assignment.
The ‘assignment’, according to him, was “discreet in nature and it was meant to take care of those sabotaging the nation.”
He said the money was meant for a specific assignment to resolve issues relating to oil bunkering and theft in the Niger Delta, adding the money was used for that purpose.
Before closing its case, Uche presented the second witness, Iyeryfama Jaja, a sub-contractor with Monier Construction Company, who narrated how his group received N5 million out of the $40 million.
Jaja told the court that in June 2014, one Wellington, a staff of One Plus Holdings, approached him and explained that Azibaola had a deal for the people in the creeks.
“The government wanted us to leave pipelines where multinational companies have their pipes, mostly where there is spillage from the pipes in the Niger Delta region.
“The names of those who promised to leave oil bunkering were forwarded to Wellington in anticipation of compensation for them,” he stated.
Jaja, however, disagreed with the court for being labeled an oil thief arguing: “We were not oil saboteurs, we were only taking care of the waste that was destroying the environment.”
He further explained to the court that his group received N5 million, which he shared out, saying he received N500000, while his second-in-command shared the rest of the money to the beneficiaries according to their ranks.
But when the defense counsel asked if he got any receipt, he said he was not issued any receipt, noting that he only signed a document with One Plus Holdings acknowledging receipt of N5 million.
Under cross-examination by Tahir, he was asked to sign on a piece of paper to establish the credibility of the document.
The case has been adjourned to February 28, 2019.