A former Acting Managing Director of Unity Bank Plc, Rislanudeen Mohammed, has told a Federal High Court in Abuja how he collected $2.2m in cash from former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Mohammed Adoke.
In interviews, his book and several previous submissions, Adoke had said his loan repayment was done directly by one Abubakar Aliyu without knowledge of how that was done.
But Mohammed told the court that when the ex-AGF wanted to pay, he called him (Mohammed) to his house and handed him $2,267,200 in cash in a black bag allegedly taken from the boot of his (Adoke’s) car.
The banker, who now works with the Bank of Industry, gave details of his relationship with Adoke while testifying as the second prosecution witness in the trial of the ex-AGF.
Aliyu Abubakar, a businessman, is the first prosecution witness in the money laundering charges the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission preferred against Adoke.
The anti-graft agency alleged that Adoke had sometime in August 2013 in Abuja accepted a cash payment of the dollar equivalent of N300m from Aliyu and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 16 (2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended).
The prosecution maintained that the former AGF made cash payments that exceeded the approved threshold amounts, outside a financial institution.
Mohammed, who said the ex-AGF was his long-time friend, told the court that one of his colleagues sought his assistance to enable Adoke access N300m facility for about five years.
He said although the facility was a temporary overdraft, which normally should not exceed 30 days, the process, including the documentation and payment of the requisite two per cent fee, amounting to N6m, was not completed.
Mohammed said at a point when officials of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Central Bank of Nigeria came to assess Unity Bank’s liquidity status in view of the prevalence of non-performing loans, they identified Adoke’s account and threatened to name the account as among those belonging to politically exposed persons responsible for the collapse of banks.
The witness averred that because Adoke was his friend, he pressurised the ex-AGF to repay the loan to avoid his name being made public.
The information is contrary to Adoke’s submission that the loan was paid without his knowledge.
According to the former minister in an interview with Premium Times, Aliyu paid the bank directly.
“Somewhere along the line, timelines were not being met to pay back the loan and I couldn’t even sell the land to pay the N200m equity participation and at the same time the loan was going bad and I have to be paying interest. It was a five-year term loan. So, the owner of the property came to me, which was still under construction and said since I cannot pay him the N200m, CBN wants to buy the house and said he should sell it to them since I don’t have proprietary on the property yet. He asked for the certificate but I said I don’t have the certificate. I directed him to the bank, Unity Bank, who paid him the money and took the certificate.
“I called the MD of the bank and thanked him for the loan offer while asking him to take the cash from Alhaji Aliyu and release the property’s certificates in the custody of the bank. The man paid the bank directly.
“Whether he paid them in dollars I don’t know. They collected the money and the bank released the certificate to Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar. He sold the house to CBN. He had already sold the house.”