$9m given to Abubakar was from sale of property to CBN, says EFCC witness

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A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has told a federal high court in Abuja that the $9,084,700 he handed over to Aliyu Abubakar, a businessman, was money received from the sale of properties to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Abubakar is standing trial alongside Mohammed Bello Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation (AGF), on a 14-count charge of alleged money laundering.

In counts one to four of the charge, the EFCC accused Abubakar of collecting monies totalling $9,084,700 from Farsman Holdings Limited through Abdulhakeem Mustapha, the witness, in 2013.

According to the anti-graft commission, the transaction contravenes the “combined effect of section 16 (1) (d) and of section 1(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011″.

Led in evidence by Bala Sanga, counsel to the EFCC, Mustapha, who is the fifth witness, told the court on Monday that he acted in the capacity of a “solicitor” to the second defendant who is also a property merchant.

He said in 2013, the second defendant instructed Equal Access, a company, “to sell some of his properties to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)”.

“CBN paid to that company and as a solicitor, I was the one that prepared relevant documents and gave legal advice,” he said.

“When the properties were bought, CBN paid the money to Equal Access and the second defendant asked Equal Access to pay the money to Farsman and instructed me to pick the money over a period.”

He said $2 million, $3 million, $4 million and $24,000 in cash were given to Abubakar at different times and receipts were issued.

Under cross-examination by Olalekan Ojo, counsel to the second defendant, the witness said he collected the monies from Farsman bureau de change as instructed by Abubakar and not Farsman Holding Limited.

He, however, said there was no written document to prove that Abubakar instructed him to receive the monies from Farsman bureau de change, adding that nobody saw him at the time he gave the money to the second defendant.

Previously, the fourth prosecution witness, Farouk Suleiman, a bureau de change (BDC) operator, told the court that sometime in September 2013, the second defendant gave him seven cheques totalling N2 billion and asked him to change it to the dollar equivalent.

Suleiman said he cleared the cheques through Farsman Holdings Limited, his company account with Heritage Bank.

After changing the money into dollars, he said he paid $9,084,700 in cash to Mustapha in five tranches, after which he handed the residual balance in cash to Abubakar.

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