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Alleged money laundering: $2.2m Adoke gave me was for loan repayment – Witness

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A former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke (SAN), who is standing trial for criminal charge bordering on alleged money laundering and corruption offences, on Thursday got a reprieve when a tier-2 bank admitted that the $2.2 million received from the former AGF was a repayment of a loan of N300m.

A prosecution witness, a former acting managing director of the bank, Rislanudeen Mohammed, told a Federal High Court in Abuja that $2.2 million was not a kickback as alleged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but a repayment of the loan granted Adoke by the bank.

Adoke and an oil magnate, Aliyu Abubakar, are standing trial on a 14-count amended criminal charge bordering on alleged money laundering and corruption preferred against them by the anti graft commission.

Mohammed, a second witness of the EFCC, in his evidence told the court how Adoke obtained a loan of N300 million from the bank and the efforts he made to ensure Adoke repaid the loan.

He said that the loan was finally liquidated when Adoke handed over to him a sum of $2.2 million and that when converted to naira, it exceeded the principal loan amount.

The EFCC witness further disclosed that the former AGF collected the balance and closed the account after the bank deducted all necessary interest regarding the transaction.

Under cross-examination by Kanu Agabi, Adoke’s lawyer, the witness admitted accepting $2.2 million on behalf of the bank to liquidate the loan.

He further stated that the $2.2 million was not a proceed of crime because it was in repayment of a loan Adoke obtained from the bank.

“I received the money as an agent of the bank. The money is not available to be confiscated because it is not a proceed of crime. I have no reason to believe it is a proceed of crime. The money is not in Adoke’s account because it belongs to the bank,” he said.

The witness further told the court that collecting the money from Adoke’s house did not in any way constitute an offence because he acted as an agent of the bank.

Testifying further, the witness said upon the full payment of the loan, the title deed used as security by the bank was released by the bank to the second defendant as an indication that the loan has been fully defrayed.

Earlier, the first prosecution witness, a manager in charge of foreign exchange trade at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Clement Osagie, tendered foreign exchange transaction rates covering August, September and October 2013 which were admitted as exhibits.

Under-cross examination by Olalekan Ojo, lawyer to the second defendant, the witness who stated that the documents tendered were generated from the electronic system of the CBN, said he was not a staff of the Information Technology (IT) department of the CBN.

Answering a question, Osagie said that the CBN’s licensed Bureau de Change (BdC) operators file report of transactions in CBN forex which are kept by the Trade and Exchange Department but he could not talk on the activities of the BdC.

While admitting that he does not know the defendants in the case, he disclosed that his statement to the EFCC was made after the last court’s proceedings.

“I thought I would just come and tender the documents before the court and go,” he said.

Trial, however, has been adjourned to September 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 for continuation of cross-examination of the second prosecution witness.