The Federal Government, yesterday, rearraigned a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke (SAN) before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over alleged corruption and fraud charges. Adoke, alongside Aliyu Abubakar, were rearraigned on a 14-count amended criminal charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of over N2 billion.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had, on two previous occasions, arraigned the defendants on similar charges. They were first arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako in February 2020 and then Justice Inyang Ekwo on June 17, 2020 on a seven-count criminal charge. Although Justice Ekwo had, in June, while admitting the defendants to bail, fixed August 3 for the commencement of trial. However, the trial could not commence on that day following the amendment of the former charge.
The prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga, had drawn the court’s attention to the amended charge dated July 22 and filed July 29 and sought for the arraignment of the defendants on the new charge. However, the judge having noted that the amended charge was not before the court, adjourned proceedings to the following day. At the resumed hearing, Sanga applied to withdraw the amended charge filed on July 29 and prayed the court to replace it with another filed on August 3, adding that the latest charge have been served on the defendants.
Counsel to Adoke and Abubakar, Kanu Agabi (SAN) and Akin Olujimi (SAN) respectively, did not oppose the prosecution’s request which was subsequently granted by the court. Although Olujimi had attempted to move an oral application challenging the jurisdiction of the judge to hear the matter being a vacation court, he however abandoned the move o allow the defendants to take their plea on the fresh charge. In the amended charge, Adoke was accused of collecting the sum of N300 million from Alhaji Abubakar as alleged proceeds of unlawful activities in 2013, while in the same year, he was said to have collected another sum of $2.2 million from one Rislanudeen Muhammed. He was also accused of disguising a sum of N300 million being proceeds of unlawful activities he accepted from the second defendant.
The Federal Government also alleged that Adoke illegally paid the sum of N50 million in 13 tranches and another N80 million in 22 tranches into his personal account with Unity Bank in contravention of the nation’s financial regulations. In another count, Adoke was said to have paid the sum of N367 million, also in contravention of the financial regulations. Adoke was further accused of disguising the sources of the amounts deposited in his Unity Bank, an act contrary to the financial law. On the other hand, the second defendant, Abubakar, was said to have, in September 2013, received cash payment of $2 million and another $4 million from one Abdulkareem Mustapha, while in September and October same year, he was alleged to have collected another sum of $84.7 million. In another count, the second defendant was accused of receiving $3 million and concealing the source of same. In another count, the complainant was accused of receiving $12 million being proceeds of alleged unlawful act.
Abubakar was also alleged to have made the sum of N300 million cash payment to Adoke in contravention of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011. The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them. Following the defendants’ plea of not guilty, the trial judge, Justice Ekwo, ordered for expeditious trial and fixed August 11, 12 and 13 for trial.