The first prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, Victor Ehiabhi, has narrated how he received a cash sum of N26m from the Office of the National Security Adviser on behalf of the former Minister.
Ehiabhi, who is a Police officer, on Tuesday, told an Abuja Federal High Court that he received the money from NSA office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in company of Fani-Kayode’s domestic staff, while the ex-minister was out of town.
Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Johnson Ojogbane, Ehiabhi, an Intelligence Operative with the Force Intelligence Bureau, said he was then serving as Fani-Kayode’s security aide.
Ehiabhi said he was deployed from the bureau’s Very Important Persons Protection Unit, to serve as the defendant’s security aide.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had arraigned Fani-Kayode on five counts including alleged diversion of N26m, which he allegedly received from the then NSA, Sambo Dasuki, to pay for an unspecified contract.
Disclosing that the cash was loaded in a small bag, the police officer said, “On November 21, 2014, on that fateful day, my principal travelled out of town and he detailed me to be within town.
“The gardener and other domestic staff were also around within the premises. The house is at Aso Drive Abuja.
“One of the gardeners, called Francis, called me on phone and told me that the defendant had called him on phone that I should accompany him (Francis) and another domestic staff, Esther, to the National Security Adviser’s office at the Villa.
“And not too long after, the defendant himself called me and told me the same thing.
“The driver named Kenneth was directed to drive us to the venue.
“We moved to the venue at Suleiman Barawo Street in the Villa.
“While at the venue, the driver, Kenneth, and the gardener, Francis, were asked to stay in the compound while I and Esther walked into the building.
“We identified ourselves as personnel of the defendant.
“The staff in the office asked who was Victor. I answered I was the one.
“They asked me to tender my identity card and I did.
“The man in the office brought out a paper and asked me to endorse it on behalf of the defendant.
“The sum of the N26m was written on the document for the defendant.
“I initially decided not to endorse the document on behalf of the defendant.
“But the man in the office insisted that since I was the policeman I should be the one to endorse the document, so I signed it.
“The man in the office brought out the sum of N26m in N1,000 denominations, and put it in one ‘Ghana-Must-Go’ bag. He gave it to us, Esther and I, for the defendant.
“We took it out of the office and beckoned on Francis and Kenneth to take it to the booth.
“So we departed from the house and departed to house of the defendant with the money.
“On getting to the house, we took it inside the house.
“As of the time the money was taken to the house, the defendant had not returned. As I said earlier he had travelled out of town.”
The prosecution witness disclosed that upon his return, the ex-Minister appreciated him and others involved in moving the money home.
He said, “The defendant had called me on phone and told me to ensure maximum security within the house until his arrival.
“On the same day, at about 11 pm, the defendant returned. When the defendant returned from his journey, he acknowledged the money and he sent for us, myself, Esther and thanked us.
“Subsequently I was invited by the EFCC. On getting to the office of the EFCC, I was asked if I ever worked with the defendant and I said yes.
“While answering the question, the personnel brought out the document that I signed at the Office of the National Security Adviser on November 21, 2014.
“There and then I was made to write a statement. I did.”
After listening to the testimony of the witness, the trial judge, Justice John Tsoho fixed June 6 for cross-examination.