Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, judicial division, on Monday struck out the money laundering charge proffered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Abdullahi Babalele, the son-in-law to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, for being defective and disclosing no primafacie case.
The judge suo motu raised the issue of jurisdiction held that EFCC went forum- shopping when it filed the case at the Federal High Court, Lagos, instead of at Abeokuta, where the offence of allegedly paying the sum of $140,000.00 to former president, Olusegun Obasanjo was said to have been committed .
The court held that the proper venue for the trial should have been Abeokuta and not Lagos.
The court further held that in the event that he was wrong on this score, and that it had jurisdiction to entertain the case, the No case submission filed and argued by Babalele ‘s Counsel, Mike Ozekhome, senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, succeeds in its entirety for the following reasons:
That the Prosecution failed woefully to prove any element of the offence charged, or adduce any evidence linking the Defendant with the offence charged; that the Prosecution Witness-1 contradicted himself when he testified that he gave the said $140,000 to former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his house at Abeokuta, Ogun State, whereas in his written extra judicial which were admitted in court during trial, he had stated that he gave the money to an unknown person at Obasanjo Library, Ota.
The court held that this was a material contradiction in the evidence presented by the prosecution. The court further held that PW-1, in his oral testimony in court, testified that it was the defendant that transferred the Naira equivalent to his bank accounts. But from the bank statements, and under cross-examination by defence counsel, Ozekhome, it was not the Defendant that transferred the said money to PW-1’s accounts, but the said money was transferred by one Jamiu Amosu and Jaybid Global Services Ltd.
No reason was proffered by the prosecution for this fundamental discrepancy in its case. The court further held that the charge filed by EFCC against the Defendant was incompetent as the charge alleged that it was the Defendant (Babalele) that procured and aided PW-1 to make the said payment, without any scintilla of evidence to prove same.
There was also no evidence linking the said money transferred to PW-1, to any illicit transaction which is one of the cardinal grounds for a money laundering charge to be sustained. The court consequently discharged Babalele.