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Alleged $140,000.00 Money Laundering: Trial Of Atiku Abubakar's Son-In-Law, Abdullahi Babalele, Begins November 11

ABDULLAHI BABALELE 

BY FRANCIS IWUCHUKWU

IKOYI, LAGOS STATE, NIGERIA - Barring any last minute change, the trial of Abdullahi Babalele, Son-In-Law to the former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, will begin on November 11, 2019, before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke  arrived at the trial date, after granting a temporary release of Abdullahi Babalele's passport to enable him travel and take care of his health.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke declared that Abdullahi Babalele had shown that “he has health issues with the evidence before the court.”

According to Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke: “Only the living can stand trial.”

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke thereafter ordered Abdullahi Babalele to return the passport to the Registrar of the court on November 11, 2019.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke adjourned untill November 11, 12 and 13 for trial to begin.

It would be recalled that Abdullahi Babalele was re-arraigned on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on a two-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of $140,000.00.

The anti-graft agency accused Abdullahi Babalele of persuading one Bashir Mohammed, a Bureau De Change (BDC) operator, to make a cash payment of the sum of $140,000 without going through any financial institution.

The alleged offence, according to the Commission is contrary to Section 18(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Abdullahi Babalele, on or about the 20th day of February, 2019 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, procured Basir Mohammed to make a cash payment of the sum of $140,000.00 (One Hundred and Forty Thousand United States Dollars) without going through a financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorized by the Law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(C) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.”

But Abdullahi Babalele pleaded not guilty to the charge as slammed against him by the anti-graft agency.

During the last sitting which came up on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, lawyer to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo told Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the existing bail earlier granted Abdullahi Babalele and also sought the commencement of the trial.

But Mike Ozekhome (SAN), counsel to Abdullahi Babalele, notified Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke about an application before the court for the release of the international passport of the defendant.

Mike Ozekhome (SAN) further informed Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke that he attached some medical reports showing that the defendant was ill and would need to undergo treatment abroad.

Responding, Rotimi Oyedepo, while opposing the application prayed Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke to go through the medical report, adding that: “There is no existing appointment made to see any doctors abroad.

“The report shows that the defendant has no issue of trauma, diabetes, high blood pressure or otherwise.”

Rotimi Oyedepo consequently asked Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke to refuse the application on the grounds that “there is no material evidence before the court to show that the defendant is in distress.”

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