A prosecution witness in the trial of an ex-Justice Minister, Mohammed Adoke and a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar told a Federal High Court on Wednesday how he handed $$9, 084, 700 to Abubakar and his agent, Barrister A. U. Mustapha.
The witness, Alhaji Farouk Suleiman, a Bureau de Change (BDC) operator testified as the prosecution’s fourth witness (PW4) and gave details of how he received N2billion from Abubakar and converted some to dollars.
Suleiman, who gave the names of some of his businesses as Farsman Holdings Limited and Farsman BDC, was led in evidence by lead prosecuting lawyer, Bala Sanga.
Adoke and Abubakar are being prosecuted on a 14-count charge bordering on money laundering related offences.
Suleiman told the court that he was introduced to Abubakar sometime in 2011, following which the second defendant approached him sometime in 2013 to help convert N2b to dollars.
“Sometime in 2013, the 2nd defendant told me about a business transaction. He handed me a number of cheques, totally N2b. He wanted me to source for dollars to exchange it”, the witness said.
He added that the cheques were drawn in the name of a firm, Equal Access, which he lodged in Farsman Holdinmg Limited’s account with Heritage Bank Plc.
Suleiman said he later went around fellow BDC operators to source for dollars equivalent of the N2b which he later paid to Abubakar and Barister A. U. Mustapha (who he said Abubakar instructed to collect the money from him) in cash on six occasions.
The witness, who gave a breakdown of how and when he handed the dollars to Abubakar and Mustapha, said both men signed the receipts he issued to them, acknowledging collecting the cash from him.
Sanga later tendered copies of the receipts, which the court admitted in evidence as :Exhbits PW4 A1 – A6.
Lawyer to Adoke, Paul Erokoro (SAN) did not cross-examine the witness when Suleiman concluded his evidence in chief.
Under cross examination by Abubakar’s lawyer, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), the witness said the 2nd defendant’s name was not written on the cheques, but that he (Abubakar) handed the seven cheques, drawn in the name of Equal Access, to him.
The witness admitted that neither Abubakar nor Mustapha produced written document indicating that the lawyer was acting as his (Abubara’s agent.
He however said the the 2nd defendants told him to hand the money to the lawyer, who came to his office on five occasions to collect dollars in cash.
As against the suggestion by Ojo, the witness insisted that Abubakar signed one of the receipts (Exhibit Pw4 A6) acknowledging that he collected dollars in cash from Farsman Holdings Ltd.
At the conclusion of Suleiman’s testimony, Sanga sought an adjournment to enable him produce the fifth prosecution witness, on whom a subpoena had been issued.
Justice Inyang Ekwo granted Sanga’s adjournment application, which Erokoe and Ojo did not oppose, and adjourned till September 1thehe or continuation of trial.