Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Abubakar Kutigi of an Abuja High Court, sitting in Gwagwalada area of Abuja, yesterday adjourned till Thursday, January 30, to decide whether or not to grant bail to former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), and two others facing corruption charges in the Malabu oil deal.
Justice Kutigi fixed the date for ruling shortly after lawyers to parties in the suit addressed him on reasons why bail should or should not be granted the defendants.
Adoke and his co-defendants were last Thursday formally arraigned before Justice Kutigi on a 42-count charge of fraud, criminal breach of trust amongst others.
In the charge with number CR/151/2020, the federal government is alleging that Adoke and other respondents received gratification to carry out a fraudulent oil deal.
The others are: Mr. Aliu Abubakar, Rasky Gbinigie, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Ultra Deep Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Limited.
Adoke was alleged to have in August 2013 in Abuja while serving as a minister knowingly received United State dollars equivalent of N300 million, which is reasonably suspected of having been unlawfully obtained and thereby committed offence punishable under Section 319A of the Penal Code, Cap. 532 Laws of the federation of Nigeria 1990.
Another defendant, Mr. Rasky Gbinigie, was accused of conspiring with one Munamuna Seidougha (at large), Amaran Joseph (at large) and Dauzia Etete (at large), in 2013, in Abuja, to dishonestly use as genuine the forged form CAC 7 and board resolution of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and the letter of resignation of one Mohammed Sani to open a bank account to receive $401,540,000.00.
However, they pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Following their plea of not guilty, prosecution counsel, Mr. Bala Sanga, prayed the court to order the remand of the defendants in a correctional centre, pending the commencement of trial.
But counsel to the defendants pleaded with Justice Kutigi to order their remand with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The court in granting the request adjourned till yesterday for hearing of the defendants’ bail applications.
When the matter was called yesterday, counsel to the defendants – Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and Mr. George Ikoli (SAN), who are counsel to the first, second and third defendants respectively, urged the court to admit their clients to bail because the alleged offences they are accused of are bailable.
The defence lawyers, who argued that the defendants are entitled to bail and have also made themselves available to court, however, urged the court to admit the defendants to bail conditions that they would be able to afford.
However, Sanga, who is counsel to the EFCC, urged the court to deny the defendants bail because they are all flight risks and it took the prosecution a great deal of time to bring them to court for arraignment.
Justice Kutigi, however, said ruling on the bail applications would be delivered on Thursday.