Absence of EFCC witness stalls money laundering trial of ex-governor’s aide’s wife

The absence of EFCC star witness stalled a N200-million money laundering suit against one Embelakpo Apere, and his wife, Beauty, at the Federal High Court, Yenagoa, on Wednesday.

Apere was aide on Sustainable Development Goals to Bayelsa’s former Gov. Seriake Dickson.

The EFCC arraigned Apere and Beauty at the court on Oct. 8 for money laundering allegedly carried out in 2015.

According to the charges, Beauty received about N200 million naira in dollars and Pounds sterling between May 2015 and April 27, 2016.

The EFCC alleged that the funds were proceeds of unlawful acts, punishable under the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.

The commission also charged Beauty for forgery of medical and birth certificates purported to have emanated from the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa.

The court granted her bail to the tune of N10 million and two sureties who must have landed property in Yenagoa.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, prosecuting counsel, Mr Mustapha Iko, told the court that the EFCC was not ready to proceed with the trial as its star witness was not released by the Commission’s Port Harcourt zonal headquarters.

He explained that the Port Harcourt office refused a request for the release of the witness to give evidence on Oct. 19 as the day fell on a public holiday.

Iko appealed to the court to adjourn the case to enable the anti-graft agency to produce its star witness to give evidence to substantiate the charges filed against the defendant.

Defense Counsel, Mr Andrew Arthur, who did not oppose the application for adjournment, noted that it lacked merit.

He argued that the delay was not in the interest of his client whose accounts had been frozen and her passport seized five years ago.

He urged the court to compel the prosecution to take steps to expeditiously dispense justice as his client had been stopped from travelling to see her children schooling in the United Kingdom for five years.

The trial judge, Justice Ndahen Nwakam, adjourned the case to Nov. 3 for continuation of trial. (NAN)