The wife of a former Nigerian minister was paid N75 million from public funds without executing any contract, an investigator told a federal court on Wednesday.
An operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told the Federal High Court in Abuja that Halima Turaki, wife of a former minister, Tanimu Turaki, was paid the N75 million from funds earmarked by her husband’s ministry for a sensitisation project.
Testifying as the 12th prosecution witness in Mr Turaki’s trial on money laundering charges, Bello Hamma-Adama said Mrs Turaki confirmed to the EFCC that she never executed any contract for the ministry.
Mr Turaki, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was a former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs who was later given an additional role as the Supervising Minister of Labour, during the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The anti-graft agency last year levelled 16 counts of money laundering, jointly, against Mr Turaki, his former special assistant, Sampson Okpetu, as well as two firms – Samtee Essentials Limited and Pasco Investment Limited. They were accused of using different companies to divert about N854 million between 2013 and 2015.
The defendants denied the charges.
Mr Hamma-Adama led by the prosecuting counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, on Wednesday, testified that the defendants diverted N359 million earmarked for a sensitisation project of the Federal Ministry Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs (FMSDIGA).
He told the court the fund was disbursed in tranches into private bank accounts including the ones operated by Mr Turaki’s wife and brother.
According to the witness, the former minister’s wife and one of his brothers, Abdullahi Maigwandu, initially received N45 million each.
He said the EFCC after gathering information about the shady transactions invited Mrs Turaki for questioning during which she allegedly confirmed receiving the payments without doing any job for the ministry.
The witness said, “she came alongside the 1st defendant (Mr Turaki) and a lawyer. On video, she mentioned that the transaction was done at her instance. She said she is a housewife.
“She said she was not a contractor with the Ministry of Special Duties. She said she did not carry out any sensitisation exercise for the ministry.”
The witness said Mrs Turaki, through her lawyer, Abdulaziz Ibrahim, who is also the lawyer defending one of the accused companies, refunded N75 million to the EFCC.
He also said N50 million was transferred to Abdulrahman Yusuf, who was said to be a bureau de change operator and business associate of Mr Turaki.
He added that Mr Yusuf transferred some of the funds to the former minister and N20 million to Samtee Essentials Ltd, a firm said to be owned by the second defendant.
According to the witness, Mr Yusuf also conceded that he did not carry out any sensitisation programme for the ministry.
The judge, Inyang Ekwo, adjourned the case till February 9 and 10.
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