Only Ex-NSA Dasuki can explain $40m pipeline contract, says witness

The principal witness in the ongoing trial of Mr Azibaola Robert, cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Alhaji ibrahim Mahe, on Monday, told the Federal High Court that only detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki can explain why OnePlus Holdings Limited got a $40 million pipeline security contract.

Mahe, who recently retired as Permanent Secretary, Special Services Operations (SSO) in the Office of the NSA, told the court that he paid OnePlus $40 million out of the $600 million special security fund sourced from the Nigerian National Petroluem Corporation (NNPC).

Under cross-examination by counsel for Roberts, Chief Chris Uche, Mahe, who admitted serving only 11 months in the ONSA, also admitted that some other firms got security contracts in excess of $40 million approved for OnePlus.

He, however, failed to tell the court, presided over by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba the names of the companies that benefitted from the remaining $560 million of the special security fund.

He admitted that the ONSA maintained Naira, Dollar and Euro security accounts.

Also under cross-examination, Mahe admitted that prior to crediting the account of OnePlus with the $40 million, no fewer than nine officials in the ONSA minuted on the payment warrant.

The retired Permanent Secretary said he paid OnePlus based on the conviction that the firm’s security contract met due process requirements, having being endorsed by nine top officials of the ONSA.

Mahe told the court that the ONSA was not in the habit of advertising security contracts, also admitting that for security purposes, certain security contracts could be given codenames.

Mahe denied being part of any bidding process for the procurement of security gadgets, saying  his responsibility only entailed disbursing monies already approved for security contracts.

Maye had, at the last adjourned date, informed the court that Dasuki had instructed him to prepare a payment mandate of $40 million in favour of OnePlus Limited.

Maye, who was the first witness called by the prosecution, told the court that Dasuki had endorsed a memo to him with details of the company’s account.

He said the memo was sent to him in his capacity as the Permanent Secretary, Special Service Office, a department in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Meanwhile, the lead counsel for Roberts, Chief Uche, had urged the court for an adjournment to enable the defence team cross-examine the second prosecution witness, Mr Olabode Fanilola, who tendered the bank account statement from Zenith Bank Plc.

Uche said he sought for the adjournment because he had not had ample information to enable him cross-examine the witness.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Sylvanus Tahir, however, objected to the application on the grounds  that there was adequate time in the course of the proceedings to cross-examine the witness.

He argued that Fanilola as a “banker has busy schedules” which would make it difficult for him to be in court at the next adjourned date.

Trial judge, Justice Dimgba, agreed with the defence that adequate judicial time had been spent for the day’s proceedings and adjourned the case till October 6, 7 and 19 for continuation of trial.

Roberts, together with his wife, Stella, were arraigned on June 8, on a seven-count charge bordering on money laundering, totalling about $40 million, to which they pleaded not guilty and were admitted to bail.