An operative with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Bello Hamma-Adama, has told Justice Inyang Ekwo, of a Federal High Court in Abuja that a sum of N75m was recovered from Halima Turaki, wife of a former Minister for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs.
Tanimu Turaki was a former Minister for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs during the administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan between 2013 and 2015.
He also served as the Minister for the Federal Ministry of Labour between 2014 and 2015.
Hamma-Adama, the fifth prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Turaki, made the observations before Justice Ekwo on Wednesday.
The EFCC had arraigned Turaki alongside his former Special Assistant, Sampson Okpetu, and two firms, Samtee Essentials Ltd and Pasco Investment Ltd, on a 16-count charge of money laundering.
Although Turaki and Okpetu pleaded not guilty to the charges, the anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants used the companies to launder the fund totalling N845m taken from the two ministries where the ex-minister held sway under the Jonathan administration.
While being led in evidence by the counsel to the EFCC, Mohammed Abubakar, the witness said about N359m was moved from the Ministry of Special Duties for a sensitisation project for the government.
Hamma-Adama, who was the lead investigator in the agency, however, said the money was later transferred in tranches into private individuals’ accounts.
Giving the breakdown, he said N45m was allegedly transferred to the ex-Minister’s brother, Abdullahi Maigwandu, through his Zenith Bank account.
Out of the N45m, he said Maigwandu transferred N20m to the Guarantee Trust Bank account of Halima Tanimu Turaki, the ex-minister’s wife.
According to the fifth prosecution witness, the sum of N20m was transferred to O-Pec Nig Ltd.
He said the remaining N5m was withdrawn in China using the ATM of Maigwandu by Halima to procure furniture items.
“The sum of N30m was transferred to Abubakar Sani Gude’s Zenith Bank account from the ministry’s account and the N30m was sent to the wife of the first defendant (Turaki),” he said.
Hamma-Adama said when Maigwandu was invited for interrogation, he confessed that the money came from the ministry and he neither had any business with the ministry nor engaged in any sensitisation exercise.
The witness said Maigwandu, a civil servant in Kebbi with a monthly salary of N33,000, also told the EFCC that the N45m was received by the ex-Minister’s wife.
“We called for the Maigwandu’s account statement in Zenith Bank. We discovered that 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 a N33, 000 salary”, Hamma-Adama said.
He said Maigwandu told the investigators that every money in that account belonged to Turaki, except his salary.
“He said he is a brother to the former minister and that the money was transferred on his instruction,” the EFCC operative added.
Hamma-Adama hinted that as at the time the N45m was transferred to Maigwandu, he was having about N7,300 in his account.
He said with all the information gathered, Halima was invited to their office.
“She came alongside the first defendant (her husband) and a lawyer. On video, she mentioned that the transaction was done at her instance.
“She said she was not a contractor with the Ministry of Special Duties and that she did not carry out any sensitisation exercise for the ministry. We ask if she knows Gode and Gwandu and she said she did. She said the transaction was her transaction and it was done on her instructions”, the witness said.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter till February 9 and 10 for the continuation of the trial.