Alleged fraud: Shehu Sani returned my $25,000, – witness
Alhaji Sani Dauda gave details on Tuesday how Senator Shehu Sani returned the $25,000 he allegedly took from him under false pretence and begged him.
Dauda said Shehi Sani had collected the money from him in November 2019 on the pretence that the $25,000 was needed to bribe four judges and a prosecutor with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to intervene in some cases involving him (Dauda) and one Abubakar.
He spoke at the resumption of his testimony as the sixth prosecution witness in the trial of Senator Sani before a Federal High Court in Abuja on a two count charge bordering on obtaining under false pretence and fraud.
Dauda, who was led in evidence by an EFCC prosecutor, Abba Mohammed, spoke in Hausa, but had his testimony interpreted to English by an official of the court.
Dauda, who said he is the Chairman of ASD Group of Companies, had told the court on Monday that, after he was arrested by the police in November 2019, Sani told him that he met with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), who promised to intervene and had spoken to for judges who will each be paid N1million.
He added that Shehu Sani also told him about a case involving his in-law, Abubakar in the EFCC and that officials of the commission would also be paid N1m.
Dauda said he had resisted making the payment, but later succumbed after pressure from Shehu Sani, who he gave $25,000, the equivalent of N5m.
“As i said yesterday, when Abubakar (the bureau de change operator) brought the money, and we added it, it was $15,000. I handed it to him (Sani) to count it. He said no problem. He put it in an envelope and went out of the house.”
The witness said Sani later came to him to claim that he was a friend to the Acting Chairman of the EFCC and that he could convince him (Magu) to help with the case in the EFCC.
He said Sani then volunteered to call Magu in his presence so that he could talk with the EFCC boss.
“He (Sani) now call somebody on the phone and said this is Magu. He said he (Magu) is his friend and that I should give him $10,000.
“I said I cannot. He kept pushing me and said that if I don’t do that there will be problem. On that day, he collected $10,000 from my hand. The $10,000 is different from the $15,000 that he collected earlier.
“Since that day that he collected the money, I have not seen him. He put off his phone. I have been calling his phone. It was not going. I now sent him text three times, no reply.
“From there I now said this man has cheated me,” the witness said.
Dauda said his friend, named Murtala later took him the the CJN to confirm Sani’s claim, but that the CJN denied knowing Sani and knowing anything about their case.
The witness said while returning from the lesser hajj, he encountered Magu aboard an Emirate flight from Dubai and while discussing, the EFCC boss denied any knowledge of Sani’s claims.
Dauda said it was at that point he became suspicious and filed a formal petition at the EFCC against Sani.
He said while he was at the EFCC office, Sani called him and said he was ready to return the $25,000.
The witness said he informed officials of the EFCC about Sani’s proposal, and the EFCC officials asked him to play along and record any conversation he had with Sani from then on, which he did.
“I went back to my office from the EFCC’s office. Shehu Sani called me that he is in my house. I told him I am not at home.
“He said I should wait for him in the office. He came to my office and asked that we enter inside my office.
“In my office, he asked that I should cover him that he is a politician. He earlier sat on a chair, but later came down to hold my leg.
“His mother knows me for over 20 years and his father knows me before he died. He (Sani) told me that I am his God father and everything.
“Before I left the EFCC, they told me that all we discussed should be recorded. All we discussed that day was recorded.”
The witness said Sani later came with his brother, one Dr. Ibrahim and another person, named Shinkafi to prevail on him to withdraw his petition from the EFCC.
Dauda said he turned down the requests by the two men.
As the witness spoke, Sani, dressed in white kaftan and a red cap, sat quietly in the dock. He, on some occasions, raised his hands and shook his head in reaction to the witness’ claims.
Under cross-examination by lead defence lawyer, Abdul Ibrahim (SAN), Dauda said he did not give Shehu Sani bribe because he did not know that the $25,000 constituted a bribe.
When asked by Ibrahim if he gave Sani bribe to give anyone, Dauda said the defendant did not tell him that the money was for bribe.
He spoke in reaction to Ibrahim’s assertion that, as a successful businessman and a knowledgeable individual, the witness out to know that it was an offence in the country to give bribe.
On how the money got to the EFCC, the witness said, although he had initially rejected EFCC’s request that he submits the money which Sani returned to him, he later handed the $25,000 to the commission when its officials said it was needed as exhibit.
On whether beside him and Sani if any other person witnessed the exchange of money between him and the defendant, Dauda said nobody else was with them when he gave the money to Sani and that there was also no third person when Sani returned the money to him.
On whether it was the EFCC that recovered the money from Sani, the witness said Sani brought the money to his house and he later handed it to the EFCC when the investigators said they needed it as an exhibit in the case.
When Ibrahim later announced that he was done with the witness and the prosecutor said he was not re-examining the Dauda, Justice Inyang Ekwo then adjourned till Wednesday for the prosecution to call further witnesses.