The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) on Tuesday re-arraigned a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, for alleged money laundering.
By Halimah Yahaya
Mr Adoke was re-arraigned alongside a controversial businessman, Aliyu Abubakar, on an amended 14-count charges.
The EFCC, had on February 10 arraigned Messrs Adoke and Abubakar on seven counts. Mr Adoke had six counts while Mr Abubakar had one count.
But with amended charges, Messrs Adoke and Abubakar now have seven-count charge each.
The duo are also standing trial alongside others at the FCT High Court in Gwagwalada in Abuja, in respect of the Malabu oil transaction.
According to the anti-graft agency, the duo in 2013, made payments (in naira and dollar),into the former AGF’s accounts.
This is in violation of various provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, EFCC said.
Count one of the charge reads;”That you Aliyu Abubakar, sometime in September 2013, in Abuja, within the junsdiction of this Honourable COurt, accepted a cash payment or the sum of $2,000,000.00 (Two million United States Dollars) from Farsman Holdings Limited, through Abdulhakeem Uthman Mustapha, and you thereby committed an oftence contrary to the combined effect of section 16 (1) (d) and of section 1(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act.”
Count eight of the charge reads “That you Mohammed Bello Adoke, sometime in August 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, accepted a cash payment of a sum of United States Dollars, equivalent to N300,000,000.00 (Three hundred million Naira), from Aliyu Abubakar, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to the combined effect of section 16 (1) (d) and of section 1(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act.”
The two defendants pleaded not guilty to the 14-count charge when read to them.
The court adopted the bail condition granted to the duo on February 10, in the sum of N50m with one surety in like sum.
The court has however adjourned to August 11, 12 and 13 for the trial of the former AGF and Mr Abubakar.
The EFCC had been pursuing Mr Adoke for his alleged role in the controversial transfer of Nigeria’s OPL 245 oil field.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how almost half of the $1.1 billion paid by Shell and Eni in the controversial OPL 245 deal brokered by Mr Adoke and some other officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration ended in accounts controlled by Mr Abubakar.
The oil multinationals paid the money through the Nigerian government to Malabu, a company then controlled by Dan Etete, a former petroleum minister who is on the run.
Malabu, which was illegally awarded OPL 245 when Mr Etete was a minister in 1998, then transferred about half of the money into accounts partly controlled by Mr Abubakar.
The EFCC alleges that Mr Abubakar distributed the money to some top officials of Shell and Eni as well as some officials of the Jonathan administration.
Shell, Eni, and their officials are already being prosecuted in Italy for the scandal.
Mr Adoke has denied any wrongdoing and said the actions taken in respect of the transfer of the block were based on the instructions of former President Jonathan and in the best interest of Nigeria.
In 2015, the former minister went on a self-imposed exile outside Nigeria.
He eventually travelled to Dubai where he was arrested by Interpol on the prompting of the EFCC.
Upon his return to Nigeria, he was arrested at the Abuja airport and handed over to the EFCC on December 19, 2019.