A Federal High Court in Abuja has heard how the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recovered N75million from Halima, the wife of Kabiru Taminu Turaki, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former Minister.
An ex-investigator with the EFCC, Hammaadama Bello said the ex-minister’s wife made the refund while his team investigated the alleged diversion of N359million public funds while Turaki was in office.
Bello said his team found how the money was distributed into various accounts linked to individuals closed to ex-minister, including his wife.
Bello, who said he has now been redeployed to the office of the National Security Adviser, testified as a prosecution witness in the trial of the former minister and others.
Turaki was the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs between 2013 and 2015. He equally served as the Supervising Minister for Labour between 2014 and 2015.
He is being tried on a 16-count money laundering charge, with his former Special Assistant, Sampson Okpetu and two firms – Samtee Essentials Ltd and Pasco Investment Ltd.
Led in evidence by a lawyer to the prosecution, Mohammed Abubakar, Bello gave a breakdown of his team’s findings on how the funds were allegedly distributed.
The witness said N45m was transferred to the minister’s brother, Abdullahi Maigwandu, through his Zenith Bank account.
He added that, from the N45m, Maigwandu transferred N20m to the Guarantee Trust Bank account of Halima Tanimu Turaki (the ex-minister’s wife).
Bello, who said another N20m was transferred to O-Pec Nig Ltd, added that the remaining N5m was withdrawn in China by Halima, using the ATM card of Maigwandu, to procure furniture items.
He added that another N30m was transferred to Abubakar Sani Gude’s Zenith Bank account from the account of the Ministry of Special Duties. He said the N30m was sent to Turaki’s wife.
The witness said when his team invited Maigwandu, he confessed that the money came from the ministry and that he neither had any business with the ministry nor engaged in any sensitisation exercise.
Bello said Maigwandu, who is a civil servant in Kebbi with a monthly salary of N33,000 equally to his team that the N45m was received by the minister’s wife.
He added: “We called for the Maigwandu’s account statement in Zenith Bank. We discovered he is a civil servant in Kebbi on a salary of about N33,000.
“We suspected a case of money laundering and we did a network analysis and we discovered that he could not have owned that money because he is on N33,000 salary.
“He (Maigwandu) said he is a brother to the former minister and that the money was transferred on his instruction.”
The witness added that his team found that when the N45m was transferred to Maigwandu, he had about N7, 300 in his account.
Bello said his team later invited Turaki’s wife, who honoured the invitation, accompanied by her husband and another lawyer.
“On the video, she mentioned that the transaction was done at her instance. She said she is a housewife.
“She said she was not a contractor with the Ministry of Special Duties. She said she did not carry out any sensitisation exercise for the ministry.
“We ask if she knows Gude and Gwandu and she said she did. She said the transaction was her transaction and it was done on her instructions,” the witness said.
Bello told the court that Turaki’s wife later returned N75m to the EFCC, through her lawyer, Abdulaziz Ibrahim (who, incidentally, is representing a defendant the ongoing trial).
Bello added that his team found that another N50m was transferred to Abdulrahman Yusuf, a bureau de change operator, who was discovered to be Turaki’s friend and business associate.
He added that investigation revealed that Yusuf did some transfers to the former minister and also transferred N20 million to the 2nd defendant’s company, Samtee Essentials Ltd.
He said Yusuf, who had several bank accounts, confessed not to have carried out any sensitisation programme for the ministry, because that was not his line of business.
The trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo has adjourned till February 9 for the continuation of trial.