The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday re-arraigned a former Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Kabiru Turaki, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, for alleged fraud.
Also arraigned alongside Mr Turaki were his former Special Assistant, Sampson Okpetu, and two firms, Samtee Essential Limited and Pasco Investment Limited.
They were last arraigned on May 4 on a 16-count charge bordering on unlawful and criminal misappropriation of funds.
Count one of the charge reads: “That you Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (whilst serving as Minister for Special Duties and Inter Governmental Affairs) sometime in January 2015 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did use the sum of N159,104,000 (One Hundred and Fifty Nine Million, One Hundred and Four Thousand only) out of the sum of N359, 104,000 (Three Hundred and Fifty Nine Million, One Hundre and Four Thousand Naira only) released to the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs for the purpose of sensitization and enlightenment of Muslim Youths, knowing that the said sum is proceed of unlawful activity to wit: criminal misappropriation and you thereby committed an offense contrary to section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section (15(3) bf the same Act.”
They pleaded not guilty to all 16 counts and the court ordered that the defendants continue to enjoy the administrative bail condition granted them by the EFCC.
When the case resumed on Monday, the EFCC produced its first witness, Tahir Umar, a former aide to former Vice President Namadi Sambo.
Mr Umar, during cross examination by the defendant’s counsel, Joe Gadzama, admitted to receiving N200 million out of the N359 million allegedly approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan for the purpose of enlightenment of Muslim organisations for the 2015 general elections.
The witness also said the EFCC demanded that N20 million out of the N200 million should be refunded.
Mr Gadzama challenged him saying the records showed that only N3 million out of the N67 million had been refunded.
“How much have you refunded so far?” Mr Gadzama asked the witness.
“I have refunded about N1.7 million,” said the witness.
When Mr Gadzama asked Mr Umar of the actions he took when he realised that only N200 million out of N359 million was released, the witness refused to provide an answer. Instead, he sought protection from the judge, Inyang Ekwo.
“I seek the protection of my lord to offer an explanation,” Mr Umar said.
But Mr Gadzama insisted he should answer the question.
“No, this is a simple question. You told the court that N359 million was approved to you and you got N200 million. What did you do to get the balance?” Mr Gadzama said.
“I asked the minister and he said the release was in tranches and I have no reason to doubt him,” Mr Umar responded.
At this point, Mr Ekwo cautioned Mr Umar when the cross-examination session got heated.
“Your language is very bad. You need to know you are before the court,” the judge said.
Mr Ekwo however adjourned till Tuesday for further cross examination and continuation of trial.