By Alex Enumah
The trial of former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke (SAN) over alleged money laundering was yesterday adjourned till March 1, 2021.
The adjournment was sequel to a formal application by Adoke’s lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), for more time to enable Adoke return to the country to continue his trial.
The former AGF and a businessman, Mr. Aliyu Abubakar are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on allegations bordering on money laundering.
At the last proceedings, the trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo had granted Adoke permission to travel abroad for medical examination.
According to the judge, Adoke was permitted to travel on December 15, 2020 and return on January 10, 2021, a day before the scheduled resumption of trial.
However, at the resumed trial, Adoke was not in court prompting the senior lawyer to apologise to the court for the absence.
Explaining his client’s absence, Agabi disclosed that Adoke tested positive to the COVID-19 at the point of his return to Nigeria, and was subsequently held back by the authorities.
The lawyer further told the court that Adoke later tested negative to the virus after his treatment but was unable to get flight to the country as ordered by the court.
“My Lord, let me apologise to you that the 1st defendant in this matter, Mohammed Bello Adoke, is not in court today due to circumstances beyond his control.
“I thank this court for granting him permission to travel abroad for medical examination.
“Before he left this country, he tested negative. But unfortunately while in the UAE, he tested positive at the point of his return to Nigeria.
“However, he is now negative after the treatment but he was unable to get flight to the country. Happily, he will return tomorrow, January 12, 2021,” he said.
Agabi informed the court that an application dated January 4 and filed same day, seeking for an extension of time to avail the 1st defendant of the opportunity to take care of himself had already been brought before the court.
He then prayed the court to extend the time within which Adoke would be allowed to appear in court to continue his trial, adding that the former AGF would make himself available for his trial in the next adjourned date.
The 2nd defendant (Aliyu Abubakar)’s counsel, Emmanuel Ikechi, who held brief for Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), did not oppose the application.
Also, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Bala Sanga, did not oppose the adjournment plea on the ground that Adoke had been regular in court and also in the interest of justice.
The matter has been adjourned till March 1 to March 4 for continuation of trial.