Fresh documents have exposed how a former Permanent Secretary in the Zamfara State Government House, Abubakar Mohammed Barmo made cash withdrawals from the state treasury amounting to N2,761,319,715 (Two billion, seven hundred and sixty-one million, three hundred and nineteen thousand, seven hundred and fifteen naira only).
The cash withdrawals were made between April 20, 2020 and January 11, 2021.
Meanwhile, the withdrawal of a huge amount of money contravenes the assented Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022.
According to documents obtained from a source in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abubakar made suspicious transactions of multiple cash withdrawals using Zenith Bank account numbered 1014656551 from the state treasury by conniving with some individuals – Surajo Abubakar, Abubakar Mohammed, Nasiru Abubakar, and Abubakar Wakili.
SaharaReporters gathered that on December 3, 2020 and December 9, 2020, cash withdrawals totalling N30,000,000 (Thirty million naira only) for each day were made. The workers claimed the cash withdrawals were meant for administrative expenditures of the office of the Permanent Secretary of the Zamfara State Government House.
The document also revealed that from April 20, 2020 to January 11, 2021, about 165 transactions totalling N2,761,319,715 (Two billion, seven hundred and sixty-one million, three hundred and nineteen thousand, seven hundred and fifteen naira only) were done and six suspicious transactions.
Also, the total deposits from the transactions accounted for 56 percent amounting to N1,572,368,155 (One Billion, five hundred and seventy-two million, three hundred and sixty-eight thousand, one hundred and fifty-five naira only). The total withdrawals from the currency transaction accounted for 43 percent amounting to N1,188,951,560 (One Billion, one hundred and eighty-eight million, nine hundred and fifty-one thousand, five hundred and sixty naira only).
SaharaReporters learnt that major deposits to Zenith Bank account 1014656551 connected to the office of the Permanent Secretary of the Zamfara Government House were from the Ministry of Finance, Zamfara State Accountant General, FAAC Account, and Zamfara State Gov’t VAT Account.
The investigation also revealed that Surajo Abubakar, Abubakar Mohd, Nasiru Abubakar, and Abubakar Wakili were signatories to the account linked to the Permanent Secretary and also signatories to the account of Office of the Chief of Staff, Government House Account, Zamfara State.
Between January 8, 2020 to March 12, 2020, there were 20 cash withdrawals totalling N180, 034, 500.00 (One hundred and eighty million, thirty-four thousand, five hundred naira only) in favour of Nasiru Abubakar. Analysis revealed a pattern showing that immediately after funds were deposited into the account, there were cash withdrawals totalling N30,000,000 (Thirty million naira only) by self in three tranches of N10,000,000 (Ten million naira only).
Between May 14, 2020 to January 7, 2021, there were 56 cash withdrawals totalling N245,713,370 (Two hundred and forty-five million, seven hundred and thirteen thousand, three hundred and seventy naira only) by Surajo Abubakar. He was the highest beneficiary of cash withdrawals from the account.
In October 2020, there was a total cash withdrawal of N39, 282,000 (Thirty-nine million, two hundred and eighty-two thousand naira only) made by Surajo Abubakar. His transaction pattern was structured in three tranches of N10, 000,000 (Ten million naira only) monthly.
Between April 7, 2020 to September 9, 2020, there were 44 (forty-four) outflows totalling N212,266,575.00 (Two hundred and twelve million, two hundred and sixty-six thousand, five hundred and seventy-five naira only) by Abubakar Wakili executed through cash withdrawals. He was the second-highest beneficiary of the cash withdrawals from the account. It was revealed that Wakili also withdrew cash without any economic justification. The majority of his cash withdrawals were in tranches of N10,000,000 (Ten million naira only).
Between December 3, 2020 and January 11, 2021, there was a total cash withdrawal of N130, 000, 000 (One hundred and thirty million naira only) made by Abubakar Mohammed.
Meanwhile, the Assented Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022 (the Act or MLA 2022), while retaining the erstwhile threshold value on cash payment transactions to a sum exceeding N5, 000,000 (five million naira) for individuals and N10,000,000 (ten million naira) for corporate bodies, it criminalises any attempt at breaking up transactions in a bid to side-step the threshold value stated in the Act.
In essence, multiple cash transactions may be summed up in determining whether the threshold value has been reached, and the prohibitory regime of the Act has been breached.