Thursday, 1 February 2018

Army Colonel Re-Arraigned Over N5.6bn Alleged Fraud


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, January 25, 2018 re-arraigned Colonel Nicholas Ashinze before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High court sitting in Maitama, Abuja.

He was arraigned on a 13-count amended charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N5.6billion.

Ashinze is standing trial alongside an Austrian, Wolfgang Reinl, Edidiong Idiong and Sagir Mohammed.

Other defendants in the case are five companies: Geonel Integrated Services Limited, Unity Continental Nigeria Limited, Helpline Organisation, Vibrant Resource Limited and Sologic Integrated Service Limited.

At the sitting, EFCC counsel, Ofem Eket, informed the court that, “I am seeking to amend a charge dated October 6, 2017”.

Defence counsels did not object to the amended charge.
Count three of the charge reads:

“That you, Col. Nicholas Ashinze, being a serving officer of the Nigeria Army and a former Special Assistance (SA) to the immediate past National Security Adviser, (Col. Sambo Dasuki Rtd), Wolfgang Rein being an Austrian National and Managing Director of Geonel Integrated Services Ltd and Geonel Integrated Service Limited on or about 22nd April, 2014 at Abuja, in the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court did transfer the sum of Five Hundred and Fifty Million Naira (N550,000,000) to Edidiong Idiong being a lawyer practising in the name and style of Law Partners & Associates knowing that the said sum forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit; ‘ corruption’ and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (prohibition), Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15(3) and (4) of the same Money Laundering ( prohibition), Act 2011 (as amended)".

Defendants pleaded not guilty to the amended charge.

Justice Kolawole granted the application to amend the charge and further stated that the evidence provided earlier shall stand.
Meanwhile, Eket told the court that the case was for cross-examination of the first witness (PW1), Hassan Saidu.

Saidu, while being cross-examined informed the court that the investigation of the defendants by the EFCC was triggered by a letter from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) dated 9th December, 2015 alleging that the defendant was operating suspicious accounts.

Saidu informed the court that there are two payments; one was processed from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF, to the tune of N3.125billion and the other one was processed from the ONSA to the tune of N2.5billion.

The matter has been adjourned to March 14, 2018 for continuation of trial.

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