The Abuja Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 re-arraigned former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohamed Bello 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 US$6 million.
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 US$2.267 million 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 US$4 million 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.”
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.
Olujimi, for the interest of his client’s liberty, beat a hasty retreat and withdrew the oral application.
The judge 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.