A prosecution witness, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, on Friday, told the Federal High Court in Abuja how he handed over about $9 million in four tranches to a businessman, Mr Aliyu Abubakar.
Aliyu 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 $9 million 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 to the fourth prosecution witness, said he was engaged in 2013 by Aliyu to help him convert the sum of N2 billion to dollars.
Farouk said Aliyu gave him seven cheques worth N2 billion drawn in the name of Equal Access Limited and instructed that the dollar equivalent be handed over to Abdulhakeem, which he said he did. He said he handed over the sum of $9,084,700 to Abdulhakeem 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 Aliyu’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 (CBN) by Aliyu.
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 the certain property to the CBN. He instructed Equal Access to pay the money paid to it to Farsman. He asked me to collect the money from Farsman.”
Abdulhakeem told the court that he handed over the total sum of $9,084,700 to Aliyu in four tranches; $2 million, $4 million, $3 million, and $24,000. He added that he was issued receipts by Aliyu.
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 Aliyu’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 23 November.