Failure to provide names and other details of witnesses by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has halted the trial of former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), held Monday at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Recall that Adoke, alongside oil magnate, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, is being prosecuted on a 14-count amended criminal charge bordering on laundering of about N4billion.
The trial was stalled as the anti-graft agency was alleged to have breached section 379 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 in failure to bring forth the identities and summary of the statements of the witnesses for prosecution. Due to this, the court adjourned the matter till August 13 for commencement of trial.
The EFCC had sought to commence trial with its counsel, Mr. Bala Sanga, calling his first witness, one Mr. Clement Osagie, an official of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who was on subpoena, to the witness box.
But the counsel to the second defendant, Chief Olalekan Ojo (SAN), objected to the calling of Osagie as witness on the ground that he was unknown to his client as EFCC’s witness in the trial.
He further demanded that fair trial insists that defendants must know those that will testify against them in a criminal matter.
In his response, Sanga, who informed the court that he got to know about the witness only on Monday evening, conceded to the argument and prayed the court for a short adjournment to comply with the law.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in adjourning the trial, ordered the prosecution to serve the defendants with all the particulars and processes that they are entitled to within 24 hours.
Why Adoke Is In EFCC’S Net
The Abuja Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has recently re-arraigned Adoke and Aliyu Abubakar before Justice I.E. Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on a 14-count amended charge of money laundering to the tune of over Six Million United States Dollars ($6,000,000).
Count one of the new charges against Adoke read: “That you Mohammed Bello Adoke, sometime in September 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, made a cash payment of the sum of $2,267,400.00 (Two Million, Two Hundred and Sixty-Seven Thousand, Four Hundred United States Dollars) to one Rislaundeen Muhammed, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to the combined effects of Section 16(1) (d) and of Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011(as amended) and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.”
A new charge against Abubakar read. “That you Aliyu Abubakar, sometime in September 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, accepted a cash payment of the sum of $4,000,000.00 (Four Million United States Dollars) from Farmans Holdings Limited, through Abdulhakeem Uthman Mustapha, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to the combined effects of Section 16(1)(d) and of Section1(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.”
EFCC revealed that both defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges, following which counsel to the second defendant, Akin Olujimi, SAN, made an oral application, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to sit on the case while courts in the country are on vacation.
Justice Ekwo in response advised the counsel to make his application formal so that he could rule on it. While reminding Olujimi that he could exercise his discretion as it pleased him in his court, he warned that a consequence of his application may be the revocation of the bail of his client.
EFCC said Olujimi, for the interest of his client’s liberty, beat a hasty retreat and withdrew the oral application.
The judge reportedly adjourned the case till August 11, 12 and 13, 2020 for commencement of trial.
It will be recalled that the defendants were arraigned on a seven-count charge before Justice Binta Nyako, on March 1, 2020, re-arraigned on June 17, 2020 on the same number of charges before Justice Ekwo and re-arraigned again, August 4, 2020 on 14-count charge before the same judge.