Again, granted N50m bail
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The federal government yesterday arraigned a former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), on fresh charges of money laundering.
The Economic and Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Adoke and one Mr. Aliyu Abubakar on a seven-count criminal charge bordering on bribery and laundering about N900 million.
Adoke and six others who were last month arraigned before Justice Idris Kutigi of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was this time arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges read against them.
Following their not-guilty plea, counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Bala Sanga, urged the court to remand the defendants in the commission’s custody pending the hearing of the matter.
However, a team of counsel to the defendants drew the court’s attention to the bail application they had filed.
Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who argued the bail application of Adoke, prayed the court to grant him bail on self-recognisance being a former AGF, pending the hearing of the charges.
He said in the alternative, Adoke should be granted bail on favourable and liberal terms, or better still to allow him enjoy bail terms as already granted him by Justice Abubakar Idris Kutigi before whom Adoke is facing a 42-count charge.
He said the former AGF had never been convicted of any crime and that the charges before the court were bailable offences.
While submitting that bail is constitutional, the senior lawyer said a defendant should not be denied his right of freedom of free movement until when he is convicted.
Similarly, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), counsel to the second defendant, aligned with the submissions of Ozekhome and urged the court to grant the second defendant bail.
In his response, Sanga urged the court to use its discretionary power to grant the defendants bail.
Delivering ruling on the bail applications, Justice Nyako admitted the defendants to bail in the same terms granted them earlier by Justice Kutigi.
Justice Kutigi had admitted both Adoke and Abubakar to bail in the sum of N50 million each.
The court in addition ordered them to provide a surety each in like sum to their bail.
The sureties, who must be responsible citizens of Nigeria, must reside within the jurisdiction of the court.
They must be owners of verifiable property in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and also show evidence of tax payment in the last three years.
In addition, the sureties are to sign an undertaking that the defendants will always be in court at every proceedings of the trial, while the defendants on their part are to undertake that they will not jump bail or interfere with the trial.
The defendants were also ordered to submit their international passports to the court and ordered not to travel without the court’s permission.
Justice Kutigi also ordered that the defendants be kept in custody of the EFCC pending the perfection of their bail.
Justice Nyako has adjourned till April 1 and 2 for commencement of trial.
Ozekhome, however, said although the defendants had perfected their bail, they had not been released as at press time.
The charges against the defendants read in part: “That you Mohammed Bello Adoke, sometime in September 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, accepted as payment the sum of United States dollars equivalent of N300 million from Abubakar Aliyu and you thereby committed an offence as specified under Section 1 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act.
“That you Mohammed Bello Adoke, sometime in September 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, made a payment of a sum of United States dollars equivalent to N367.3 million to one Usman Mohammed Bello and you thereby committed an offence as specified under Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act.
“That you Mohammed Bello Adoke, sometime in September 2013, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the honourable court, used the total sum of N300 million when you knew that the said funds formed part of your unlawful activities to wit: payment of an amount exceeding stated threshold amounts outside a financial Institution and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15 (2) (d) and punishable under section 15 (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended).”