The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, June 30, 2016, arraigned Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and Mayim Construction and Properties Limited before Justice A.R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja on a 5-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N2.9billion.
Fintiri, a former speaker, who also served briefly as the acting Governor of Adamawa State, allegedly laundered monies through his naira and dollar accounts domiciled at Ecobank Plc., and making a large cash payment for the purchase of a property at Plot Number 7, Gana Street , Maitama, Abuja.
Count 4 of the charge reads:
“That you, Ahmadu Umaru (Alias Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri) and Mayim Construction and Properties Limited on or about the 9th October 2014 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did indirectly disguise the origin of the aggregate sum of N550,000,000 (Five Hundred and Fifty Million naira) through a term loan of twelve months purportedly granted to you by Ecobank Plc for the acquisition of a tea plantation farm from Nigeria Agricultural Bank in Taraba State which loan you repaid within three months as acting Governor of Adamawa State from sum which you know form part of proceeds of unlawful act to wit: corruption and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(a) of the Money laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) and (4) of the same Act.”
Upon the reading of the charges, the first defendant, Fintiri pleaded not guilty, while a plea of ‘not guilty’ was also entered for Mayim Construction and Properties Limited, pursuant to the provisions of Section 478 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
In view of the pleas by the accused, counsel to EFCC, Aso Larrys Peters, requested for a date for commencement of trial, and that the defendant be remanded in prison custody.
However, counsel to the first and second defendants, Mahmud Abubakar Magaji, SAN, informed the court that he had a pending motion dated June 24, 2016 and filed on June 27, 2016 seeking for release of the defendant
This was opposed by the prosecution who noted that the motion, which represented just the first defendant, sought to remove the second defendant from the matter.
“This is a criminal trial and it is fundamental that all processes before your lordship carries the appropriate parties. We have not amended the charge and your lordship has not ordered us to do so. The motion filed by the defence is a deliberate attempt to amend the charges, confuse and frustrate court processes”, Peters kicked.
Referring to precedents, the prosecution requested that the court discountenance the application, describing it as incompetent.
However, his objection was overruled.
Consequently, the defence moved its application.
In his argument, Magaji stated that since the prosecution had deposed to a six-paragraph counter affidavit to the effect that investigations into the matter had been concluded and the defendant had been on administrative bail of the EFCC, the defendant was not likely to jump bail and would always be available for trial.
The defence further presented exhibit MAM1 to the effect that the defendant was physically unwell.
Again, the motion was opposed by the prosecution, who pointed out that the exhibit MAM1 tendered alongside the defence’s motion claimed that the defendant went for a physical examination on June 9, 2016, and was diagnosed with heart-related ailments and hypertension.
By this, the prosecution noted that, “It doesn’t follow that results of tests can be issued before a consultation. On that date, the defendant was in the custody of the EFCC and only released by June 15, 2016, on administrative bail.
“Somebody is lying under oath. If your lordship grants bail, we are not sure that this matter will continue”, Peters submitted.
He urged that the discretion of court should be exercised judiciously based on material evidence before the court.
Thereafter, Justice Mohammed adjourned to June 1, 2016 for ruling on the bail application and ordered the defendant to be remanded in Kuje prison custody.