Witness Tells Court How Convicted Drug Baron Laundered Over N400m Using Phoney Firms 

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Witness Tells Court How Convicted Drug Baron Laundered Over N400m Using Phoney Firms

 

A Lagos Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Akintayo Aluko, on Tuesday, was told how a convicted drug Baron, Steve Adigwe, also known as Isioma Obobo, received huge sums of money from the illicit trade, laundered same and attempted to disguise the origin of the said money running into over N400 millions.

The convicted drug baron, Adigwe, is being prosecuted by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), for alleged illegal important of 75.75 Kilograms of Cannabis Indica, which he alleged hidden in two vehicles, a Lincoln Navigator and a Toyota Yaris both concealed in a 40 ft container number MSCUS33668-0.

He was on March 3, 2023, convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment by the same court, for trafficking in cocaine.

He was however ordered to pay a fine option of a N500,000, in lieu of the Jail-term.

However, the convicted drug lord, was again rearraigned before the court in a fresh charge marked FHC/L/108c/2023, on June 29, 2023, on another 10 counts charge of trafficking in 75.75 Kilogrames of Cannabis Indica, a prohibited substance similar to Cocaine, heroin and other hard drugs.

At the resume trial of the convicted drug lord on yesterday, an NDLEA officer, Dr. Uduo Thomas Achu, who was the 10 witness to in the matter, while being lead in evidence by the prosecutor, Mrs O .I. Iwuchukwu narrated to the court how the convicted drug baron made an additional statement on May 24, 2024 to the extent that he is a spare parts seller at Tincan Island Port, Lagos.

Dr. Achu told the court that based on the information, given by the convict, he went to the Port to investigate the claim and was informed that the only business done at Tim Can Island Port is importation and exportation of goods and that with the different security agencies, there there is no way an individuals can carry out the business of buying and selling there.

The witness in his evidence added  that on the bases of the information gotten from Tin Can Island, he decided to look at the Adigwe’s statement of accounts in order to have the idea of the type of business he is doing.

Achu said: “in analysing the his four statement of account, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, GTbank and Fidelity Bank, I discovered a pattern of lodgment and transactions that is consistent with with money laundering.

“I find out that the lodgement has no legitimate origin,” he said.

The witness added that between  August 4, 2021 to December 14, 2022, the ‘defendant’ received and retained a gross total sum of N143 million, from one  Emmanuel Chika’s Guaranty Trust Bank Account No 0129693089 into his Guaranty Trust Bank Account No. 0137030218 in several transactions.

Achu further stated that in the course of his investigation, he discovered that Steve Adigwe between September 2, 2021 and December 15, 2022, transferred a gross total of about N137,530 million, from his Guaranty Trust Bank Account No. 0137030218 into his Isinobong Nig. Limited’s Stanbic Bank Corporate Account No. 0039258905 with several transactions, with the aim of concealing or disguising the origin of the funds.

The witness further added that his investigation revealed that the ‘defendant’ accounts are linked to companies without verifiable address . “They transacts businesses, received funds without invoices or receipt or known suppliers.

“I also conducted what is called Transaction Tracing on the accounts and discovered that payments were made for drug purchase into Isinobong Nigeria Limited account. The analysis of his phone shows that they were negotiating for price and payments were made, the receipt of the payment was screen shut. I traced the transaction and discovered it was in Calabar, but we couldn’t get the intended target as he was not in the address.”

Achu also added that the frequency of transfer from the ‘defendant’s’ accounts raises question as to the purpose of the transfer.

Based on the witness evidence before the court, the prosecutor, Mrs O. Iwuchukwu tendered the statement of accounts of the four banks the witness said he analyzed as well as the additional statement made by the witness.

The four statement of accounts tendered and admitted in evidence by the court are that of Zenith Bank, GTbank, Access Bank and Fidelity Bank and they were all admitted in evidence.

Following the conclusion of the evidence of the prosecution witness, counsel for the convicted drug baron, Chief Benson Ndakara  asked for an adjournment for the purpose of  cross examining the witness.

Justice Akintayo Aluko consequently adjourned further trial of the matter till June 10 and 11, , 2024.