Former Minister of Water Resources, Mukhtar Shehu Shagari, and four others were arraignedÂ TuesdayÂ at the Sokoto Federal High Court on a five count charge of Conspiracy and Money Laundering to the tune of N500 million.
Charged along with the former minister were Senator Abdullahi Mohammmed Wali, Ibrahim Gidado, Nasiru Dalhatu Bafarawa and Ibrahim Milgoma.
Trouble started for the defendants after the Commission received intelligence that the accused persons were also beneficiaries of the $115m allegedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to senior members of the Peoples Democratic Party, for the 2015 election.
Some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, who also benefitted from the money, are separately facing trial.
Shagari and other defendants allegedly received the N500million, which was not paid through any financial institution, in flagrant violation of provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.
One of the counts read: â€œYou Mukhtar Shehu Shagari, Ibrahim Gidado and Ibrahim Milgoma sometime in March 2015, within the justification of this honourable court did conspire among yourselves to receive cash payment of the sum of N500,000,000 (Five Hundred Million Naira Only) from one Abdulrahaman Ibrahim without transacting through a financial institution and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 16(2) of the same Actâ€.
All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them.
Prosecution counsel Johnson Ojogbane requested a date for trial in view of the plea of the defendants and also asked that the defendants be remanded in prison custody.
Counsel representing the 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants Ibrahim Abdulaziz, as well as counsel for the 2nd and 5th defendants Ibrahim Idris and L.A Abdulkadir respectively applied for the bail of their clients pending the determination of the case.
Ojogbane confirmed that he was served with the various bail applications by the applicants but also reminded the court that he was only servedÂ MondayÂ and therefore needed time to respond.
Justice Idrissa Kolo, after listening to the arguments between the parties, remanded the defendants in police custody tillÂ ThursdayÂ for the hearing and determination of bail.