From Eric Ikhilae, Abuja
Two prosecution witnesses who testified yesterday in the $25,000 fraud case against Senator Shehu Sani could not identify the defendant.
The prosecution had opened its case by calling the two witnesses at a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The witnesses – Beckley Ojo and Elizabeth Nwoka – who described themselves as Compliance Officers with GTBank Plc, said they could not say if Sani was the beneficiary of the funds transferred from A. S. D. Motors’ account.
Sani is facing a two-count charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He is accused of collecting $25,000 under false pretence from a businessman, Alhaji Sani Dauda, of A. S. D. Motors Limited.
Led in evidence by lead prosecution lawyer Abba Mohammed, Ojo said he had been with GTBank for 13 years as a Compliance Officer.
He said his schedule included liaising with bank regulators and law enforcement agencies, including the police, EFCC, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), among others.
The banker said he was invited by the EFCC on February 17, 2020 on a case involving the A. S. D. Motors.
He said: “I received the letter from an agent of the EFCC in my office. First, I have to generate the statement of account of A. S. D. Motors to get the instrument used in the transaction, the account opening document, among others.”
On how the transaction was carried out, Ojo said: “An in-house cheque of GTBank was used in carrying out the transaction.
“I generated a statement of the beneficiary, issued a Certificate of Compliance, which I signed; prepared a cover letter, which a colleague and I co-signed and then forwarded same to the EFCC’
The prosecution tendered a bundle of documents on an account with GTBank, which included a certificate of compliance, a copy of the cheque used, the statement of account and account opening package of the beneficiary.
Ojo gave the name of the beneficiary of the account as Sheriff Zelani Shanono.
He added that from the account opening package and certificate of identification of Shanono, as contained on page 34 of the document, N3,590,000 was credited into the beneficiary’s account from A. S. D. Motors Nigeria Limited through a transfer on December 2, 2019.
The banker explained that the cheque was an instruction in favour of GTBank to transfer the money to Shanono.
Ojo said he did nothing else on the account other than what the EFCC requested from his bank.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Abdul Ibrahim (SAN), Ojo said he would not know if Shanono was the same person as the defendant.
Ibrahim asked the witness: “Is that Sheriff Zelani Shanono (pointing to Senator Sani, who was in the dock)?”
The witness responded: “I wouldn’t know, sir.”
Nwoka also said she did not know the defendant.
The banker was handed an account statement from which she read: “I have a debit transaction of N5 million carried out on the November 20, 2019 from the account of A. S. D. Motors Nigeria Limited to Abubakar Ahmad of Zenith Bank. It was a transfer from A. S. D. Motors Nigeria Limited to Abubakar Ahmad.
“Also, on the December 2, 2019, it was a debit transaction of N3,590,000 from A. S. D. Motors Nigeria Limited to Sheriff Z. Shanono of GTBank.”
Nwoka, who told the court that A. S. Dauda Enterprise Limited was the account holder, said Alhaji Sani Dauda was the authorised signatory to the account.