A former Minister of Works and Housing, Hassan Lawal, Thursday told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that the N43.4 million which is the subject for the money laundering charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was a proceed from the sale of his landed property in Nasarawa State.
While adopting his argument for a no-case-submission over his trial for laundering N43.4 million, Lawal said he took a loan from United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc to buy a house in Asokoro which belonged to the former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Tafa Balogun.
He said the house was sold to him by the EFCC.
Lawal stated that he later sold his landed property in Nasarawa State to repay the loan and that it was the proceed of that property he credited to his UBA account that became the subject of money laundering charges EFCC brought against him.
Counsel to Lawal, M .A. Odeh, asked the court to strike out the EFCC charge on the grounds that the sale of a landed property could never constitute an illicit act or illegal source of fund.
‘’I wish to draw the attention of the court to evidence of prosecution witnesses (PW1, PW2, PW3, PW5) which have been so discredited during cross-examinations.
“The court could not take cognizance of them as properly supporting the offence of money laundering.
“The evidence of prosecuting witnesses clearly stated before the court that these were normal banking transaction,” Odeh said.
‘’The PW2 who is a former staff of the EFCC said Lawal bought the Asokoro house from the EFCC, while PW3 and PW5 who are staff of UBA said Lawal took loan from the bank and used the proceeds of the landed property sold in Nasarawa State to off-set the loan.’’
But the EFCC asked the court to discountenance the submission of the accused on the grounds that Lawal had a case to answer.
Justice Adamu Bello however adjourned to February 25 to rule on Lawal’s no-case application.
The counsel to the EFCC, Wahab Shittu, had earlier told the court that the accused used by one Adesanya Adewale, an ex-staff of a bank to launder N43.4 million.
The counsel said that all the prosecution witnesses had testified that the deposits were made in three transactions of N3 million, N4 million and N8.9 million at different times.