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Turaki’s trial : How N359m was moved from ministry’s account to individual accounts –Witness

A compliance officer with a 2nd Generation Bank, Remigius Ugwu, yesterday told the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja how the sum of N359 million was moved from Special Duties Ministry’s account and transferred to different accounts. Ugwu made this known while giving his evidence-inchief in the ongoing trial of ex-Minister of Special Duties, Taminu Turaki, before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. Former President Goodluck Jonathan had approved N359 million as part of the projects to launder the image of the government through sensitisation of Muslim groups in parts of the country. Turaki, who was the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs between 2013 and 2015, is standing trial over alleged laundering of N854 million.

The defendant also served as the supervising Minister of Labour from 2014 to 2015 under President Jonathan-led administration, and as Chairman, Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution. The EFCC had however on May 4, arraigned the former minister alongside his former Special Assistant, Sampson Okpetu, and two firms; Samtee Essentials Limited and Pasco Investment Limited, on 16 counts of money laundering.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants used the companies to launder funds totalling about N845 million stolen from the two ministries where the minister held sway under the then administration. However, Turaki and Okpetu pleaded not guilty to the charges. Ugwu, who was the second prosecution witness (PW2) while being led in the evidence by Counsel to the EFCC, Farouk Abdullah, said around 2018 and 2019, his office received a letter of investigation activities from the anti-graft agency in relation to eight of their customers. According to him: “My schedule of duties, I liaised with law enforcement offices and regulators.

“I receive request from them and responded to their request and any other assignment assigned to me by the management of the bank”. According to him, the EFCC requested for the account opening packages, statement of accounts, some transaction instrument certificates of identification and other documents. “Some of the customers are Abdulrahman Yususf, Over One Bureau De Change, Drilled Tiger Construction Ltd, Sampson Okpetu, Kabiru Taminu Turaki and Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution,” he said. He said his office made the requested documents available to the anti-corruption agency.

Abdullah, therefore, applied to tender the documents as exhibits after Ugwu identified them. Joe Gadzama, SAN; A. K. Ajibade, SAN; Abdullaziz Ibrahim, and Nasir Saidu, who were counsel to the 1st to 4th defendants did not object.

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