Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
A prosecution witness, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, on Friday, told the Federal High Court in Abuja how he handed over about $9m in four tranches to a businessman, Mr Aliyu Abubakar.
Abubakar is being jointly prosecuted along with a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), on 14 amended counts of money laundering.
But Adoke’s name did not feature in the $9m transactions which the prosecuting agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, had alleged involved tranches of the fund in amounts exceeding the statutory threshold outside a financial institution, violating the Money Laundering Law.
The Managing Director of Farsman Holdings Limited and Farsman BDC, Alhaji Farouk Suleiman, had, while testifying as the fourth prosecution witness, said he was engaged in 2013 by Abubakar to help him convert the sum of N2bn to dollars.
Suleiman said Abubakar gave him seven cheques worth N2bn drawn in the name of Equal Access Limited and instructed that the dollar equivalent be handed over to Mustapha, which he said he did. He said he handed over the sum of $9,084,700 to Mustapha in five tranches between September and October 2013.
Led in evidence by EFCC’s lawyer, Bala Sanga, on Friday, Mustapha, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said he was Abubakar’s lawyer for seven years.
The witness told the court that he had acted as Abubakar’s lawyer in the transaction involving his sale of a certain property of the businessman to the Central Bank of Nigeria by Abubakar.
He said, “At all material times, I have been a solicitor to the second defendant. He is into selling and buying property. He instructed Equal Access to sell certain property to the Central Bank of Nigeria. He instructed Equal Access to pay the money paid to it to Farsman. He asked me to collect the money from Farsman.”
Mustapha told the court that he handed over the total sum of $9,084,700 to Abubakar in four tranches; $2m, $4m, $3m and $24,000. He added that he was issued receipts by Abubakar.
The witness said receipts were tendered by the prosecution and admitted as exhibits by the court.
Adoke’s legal team, led by Kanu Agabi (SAN) and Paul Erokoro (SAN), opted not to cross-examine the witness.
Meanwhile, under cross-examination by Abubakar’s lawyer, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), the witness conceded that no one was present when he handed over the money to the businessman. He also admitted that he had no document to support his claim that he was instructed to receive the money from Farsman on his behalf.
Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned the trial till November 23.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Contact: [email protected]