Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday arraigned a former Minister of State for Power, Mohammed Wakil, on a seven- count charge of criminal conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of over N341 million.
Also arraigned alongside him were four persons – Garba Abacha, Ibrahim Shehu Birma, Abubakar Ali Kullima andÂ Muhammad Baba Kachalla.
They were arraigned before Justice MT Salihu of the Federal High Court, Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
While Wakil was a former Minister of State for Power, the other four defendants arraigned with him were former aspirants during the 2015 general elections.
The EFCC had received an intelligence report on April 13, 2016 against a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke who allegedly deposited a large amount of money with Fidelity Bank. According to the EFCC, the money was shared by the defendants to politicians in Borno State.
The accused allegedly cosnpired among themselves to make and receive cash payments above the threshold approved for financial institutions.
One of the count read against the defendants stated: â€œThat you, Hon. Muhammad Wakil, Garba Abacha, Ibrahim Shehu Birma, Dr. Abubakar Ali Kullima and Mr. Muhammad Baba Kachalla on or about March 26, 2015 at Maiduguri, Borno State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did agree among yourselves to do an illegal act, to wit: conspiracy to commit Money Laundering and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (As Amended)â€.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the counts prepared against them.
Counsel to the prosecution, HA Shehu applied for a trial date and argued for the remand of the defendants in the prison custody.
In his reply, counsel to the first, second and third defendants M. Umoru prayed for the remand of the defendants in the EFCC custody pending the hearing of their bail application.
Thereafter, Justice M.T Salihu adjourned the matter to July 3, 2018 for hearing of the bail application and ordered the remand of the defendants in the EFCC custody.