By Deborah Onyofufeke with extra report
A property developer, Aliyu Abubakar, yesterday narrated before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja how the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) asked him to implicate former President Goodluck Jonathan and an ex-Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), in money laundering.
Speaking under cross-examination in the “trial-within-trial”, Abubakar said Bala Sanga, the then-EFCC prosecutor, asked him on December 31, 2019, to claim that he gave Jonathan $50m and Adoke $20m so that he would not be detained into 2020.
He said he was then forced to sign a prepared statement with the threat that he would be detained on the orders of Ibrahim Magu, who was the then Chairman of EFCC if he did not cooperate with the agency.
Part of his cross-examination stated, “While I was in their office, Bala called me and said he wants to help me. He asked how close I am to Adoke and I said he is my brother. He said I have to sacrifice someone to be alive and that there is evidence before him which he will show me at the right time that he has information that I gave Adoke USD20m.
“I said how did I carry it? As I did not. He said I think Adoke is my brother from the same place and I don’t want to say the truth. I said there is nothing like that as he wants me to implicate someone with lies. He also said there is evidence before him that I gave President Goodluck Jonathan USD 50m and I said there is nothing like that. He said that if I don’t cooperate with him, he will charge me to court and he wanted to make me a witness against them (Adoke and Jonathan).”
The anti-graft agency had on August 4, 2020, arraigned Adoke (1st defendant) and Abubakar (2nd defendant) before Justice Inyang Ekwo on allegations of money laundering.
The agency alleged that Adoke made a cash payment of $2.26m to Unity Bank in 2013 in contravention of money laundering laws.
Adoke, in his memoir, said Abubakar had in 2011 offered him property for N500m out of which Unity Bank provided a mortgage of N300m, which was then equal to about $2.2m.
He said when he could not raise the funds to pay his equity contribution of N200 million, Abubakar refunded the mortgage to Unity, repossess the property, and sold it to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2013.
Abubakar refunded the N300m directly to Unity Bank, Adoke wrote.
However, EFCC’s star witness, Rislanudeen Mohammed, who was the acting MD of Unity Bank when Abubakar refunded the mortgage in 2013, told the court that there was no money laundering involved in the transaction, insisting that it was “transparent and legitimate”.
Although the case before the Federal High Court does not mention the controversial OPL 245 deal, the EFCC is using the same particulars to prosecute Adoke, Abubakar, and others in an FCT high court this time over the oil block.
However, yesterday when the trial before Ekwo continued with a new prosecutor, Ofem Uket, taking over after the withdrawal of Sanga, Abubakar, was presented by Wole Olanikpekun (SAN), while Adoke’s team, led by Kanu Agabi, has been joined by Victor Ndoma-Egba and Aliyu Sarki.