By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
Erstwhile Acting Managing Director of a new generation bank Plc, Mr Rislanudeen Mohammed, on Thursday, narrated before the Federal High Court in Abuja, how he collected $2.2million in cash from the immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Bello Adoke, SAN.
Adoke is answering to a 14-count money laundering charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against him and an oil mogul, Mr Aliyu Abubakar.
The anti-graft agency alleged that Adoke had sometime in August 2013, in Abuja, accepted a cash payment of the dollar equivalent of N300m from Aliyu, and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 16 (2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended).
Whereas Abubakar was also accused of accepting cash payment of the sum of $4million from Faman Holdings Limited, through one Abdulhakeem Uthman Mustapha, in September 2013, the prosecution, told the court that Adoke made structured cash payment in tranches into his Bank Account.
The prosecution maintained that the former AGF made cash payments that exceeded the approved threshold amounts, outside a financial institution.
To prove the charge against the Defendants, EFCC, produced two witnesses that testified before trial Justice Inyang Ekwo on Thursday.
Testifying as the second prosecution witness, PW-2, the former Acting MD told the court that Adoke, who has been his friend since 1990, had sometime in 2012, requested a loan of N300m from the bank.
He said owing to incomplete documentation for the account, a temporary overdraft facility was initiated for the former AGF even as his requested loan was approved.
The PW-2 said he subsequently approached Adoke after the branch manager of the Bank informed him about a pending fee of N6m.
He said Adoke later sent the N6m through his driver and it was handed over to the branch manager.
Led in evidence by EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Bala Sanga, the witness, said Adoke failed to repay the loan until the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, queried the bank while conducting a risk management assessment of banks.
He said the bank was asked to explain why it had so many cases of nonperforming loan.
According to the witness, in view of his long-standing relationship with Adoke, he immediately reached out to him, urging him to repay the loan so as to avoid being blacklisted by the bank or having his name published as one of the loan defaulters.
He said as a result of intense pressure he mounted, Adoke, invited him to his Abuja residence and handed him the cash sum of $2,267,400.
“He called me to his house and he gave me the money in a black bag. It was taken from the boot of his car into the boot of my car,” the witness told the court.
He said that N300m loan was finally liquidated after Adoke handed him the money which, when it was converted to naira, exceeded the principal loan.
The witness disclosed that the former AGF then requested the balance of the money and closed the account after the bank deducted all necessary interest that accrued from the transaction.
He said when the account was closed, a residual balance of about N223,000 was issued to Adoke by way of manager’s cheque.
While being cross-examined by Adoke’s lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, the witness, said he had no reason to believe that the money he received from the Defendant was from the proceeding of crime.
“As I said, he is my friend. I accepted the money from him in terms of the bank. There was no transaction between me and him except on the issue of repayment of the loan.
“I received this money as an agent of the Bank. It was a loan and the loan was repaid. I had no reason to believe that the money was a proceed of a crime.”
Asked if the money is still available in the account of the bank, the witness replied: “The money is not there because it belongs to the bank. It was a recovery.”
He told the court that title deeds of property that was used as collateral for the loan were released when the payment was made.
“The security documents were handed over to the 2nd Defendant after the loan was repaid.”
Earlier, the first witness, Mr Clement Osagie, a Manager in charge of foreign exchange trade at the CBN, tendered in evidence before the court, foreign exchange transaction rates for September and October 2013.
The witness told the court that the documents which were admitted as exhibits were generated from the electronic system of the CBN.
Under cross-examination, the PW-1 admitted to that he never served under the Information Technology (IT) department of the CBN.
In response to a question, Osagie said that CBN’s licenced Bureau de Change (BDX) operators always file a report of transactions in CBN forex, which he said are kept by the Trade and Exchange Department.
He admitted that he does not know the Defendants in the case, adding that he made a statement to the EFCC after the last sitting of the court.
Meanwhile, trial Justice Ekwo adjourned the case till September 7 for the continuation of hearing.