On Wednesday, a Bureau De Change operator, Alhaji Farouk Suleiman, explained to the Federal High Court in Abuja, how he was allegedly engaged by a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar, to convert N2bn, and subsequently paid him the dollar equivalent of $9m.
Suleiman said the N2bn was paid into the bank account of his firm via seven cheques handed to him by Abubakar.
But he said the dollar equivalent totalling $9,084,700 was received by a lawyer, Mr. A. U Mustapha, in five tranches for onward delivery to Abubakar.
The BDC operator was in court on Wednesday as the fourth prosecution witness in the case of 14 amended counts of money laundering jointly instituted against Abubakar and a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN).
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which filed the case, accused Adoke and Abubakar of using different sums of money, which allegedly formed part of their unlawful activities, and accepting the amounts exceeding stated threshold outside a financial institution, in violation of the money laundering law.
Adoke’s name, however, did not feature in Suleiman’s testimony on Wednesday.
Led in evidence by EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Bala Sanga, Suleiman told the court presided by Justice Inyang Ekwo, that he operated his foreign exchange business through Farsman Holdings Limited and Farsman BDC.
He said he was introduced to Abubakar sometime in 2011, and in 2013, he was contacted by the businessman to help him to convert N2bn to dollars. He said Abubakar gave him seven cheques drawn in the name of a firm, Equal Access.
Suleiman said he lodged the cheques in Farsman Holding Limited’s account with Heritage Bank Plc and added that he sourced the naira equivalent of the N2bn from different parts of the country, particularly Abuja.
The witness added that between September and October 2013, as instructed by Abubakar, he handed over the dollar equivalent of $9,084,700 to a lawyer, A. U Mustapha.
“I handed over $9,084,700 in cash to Mustapha as instructed by my client Abubakar in five different,” the witness said He said he issued receipts which were signed by Mustapha for receiving the dollar equivalent.
The receipts were tendered by the prosecution and admitted by the court as Exhbits PW4 A1 – A6, on Wednesday.
Adoke’s lawyer, Mr Paul Erokoro (SAN), opted not to cross-examine the witness. But the witness was cross-examined by Abubakar’s legal team led by Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), and Mr.Olalekan Ojo (SAN).
Under cross examination by Ojo, the witness admitted that he had no record showing that Abubakar was a director or shareholder at Equal Access, the firm from whose account the N2bn was said to have been drawn via seven cheques.
He also admitted that there was no document signed by Abubakar as the giver of the N2bn or the recipient of the $9m equivalent.
Justice Ekwo adjourned till September 11 for continuation of trial.