Abubakar Umar, a witness for the Commission on Economic and Financial Crime (EFCC), told the Federal High Court in Abuja that he allegedly handed over $ 15.8 million to Gabriel Suswam, the former governor of the state of Benue.
Umar, who is the operator of the Bureau of Change and the owner of Fanffash Resources, has been testifying since 2016.
In 2017, he was declared a hostile witness after giving conflicting testimony based on what he had previously told the EFCC.
In his written statement before the EFCC, Umar said he took the money to the governor at his residence in Maitama, Abuja.
But testifying in court, he said he took the money to a government house in the state of Benue.
However, at a court hearing on Wednesday, the witness confirmed his earlier statement to the EFCC.
Led by the evidence of Rotimi Jacobs, an EFCC MP, he claimed he was threatened by associates of the former governor who asked him to change his statement.
“I changed the statement because of the pressure I put on Suswam’s people,” he said.
Asked by prosecution attorneys what Suswam’s alleged allies want him to change, he told the court they wanted him to change where and to whom he gave the dollar equivalent of N3.1 billion.
He also insisted that his company Fanffash Resources had nothing to do with the Benue state government and that it also had no deal or contract with Elixir Investment Partners Limited.
“I don’t know Elixir, but sometime in August 2014, Suswam called me at his house in Maitama and introduced me to a lady and asked me to give her my account details,” Umar said.
“Suswam said that when I see the money, I should give it the equivalent in dollars, which I did, in the amount of 15.8 million dollars, using N197 as the exchange rate.
“I handed over the dollars in cash to Suswam at his residence in Abuja.”
The case was postponed until May 25 for the trial to continue.
Suswam and Omadachi Okolobia, a former state finance commissioner, are on trial on 11 counts each for money laundering charges.
The duo is accused of diverting N3.1 billion from the state coffers.
They were first brought before Ahmed Mohammed, a judge of the Federal High Court, in 2015.
However, Mohammed withdrew from the case after allegations that the defendants bribed him to reach a favorable verdict.
After that, the judge returned the case file to Adam Kafarati, the then chief judge of the federal higher court.
Kafarati assigned the case to Okon Abang, another judge, but in February 2020 the appellate court ordered that the case be returned Mohammed.