Adoke, former AGF pleads not guilty to money laundering charge

MOHAMMED Adoke, a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the amended charges of money laundering filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Adoke, alongside Aliyu Abubakar who is an Abuja-based businessman are facing a seven-count charge filed against them by the EFCC over money laundering allegation to the tune of N400 million.

They are being tried before the Federal High Court in Abuja. Their trial on Monday was stalled by late filing of an amended charge by the prosecution team.

However, during sitting on Tuesday, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the 14 count charge filed against them.

The EFCC had in June filed an additional seven charges against the former AGF and his co-defendant.

The initial charge contained seven counts, with six of them relating to Adoke.

At the resumed trial, Bala Sanga, the prosecutor informed the court of an amended charge he filed on July 29 which was served on all the defendants.

The trial judge, Justice Ekwo who frowned at the late filing of the amended charge adjourned the trial till Tuesday on the ground that he was yet to sight the amended charges.

In the former seven counts, the EFCC alleged that the defendants committed the money laundering offences involving over N400 million in Abuja in September 2013.

In the counts relating to Adoke, he was accused of among others, receiving the dollar equivalent of N300 million from Abubakar, paying the dollar equivalent of N367,318,800 to one Usman Mohammed Bello, and allegedly using the sum of N300 million, which was alleged to be part of the proceeds of unlawful activities, all in violations of various provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.

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He was also accused of making “structured cash payments, in 22 tranches” amounting to N80 million, another of such structured payments in 13 tranches summing up to N50 million into his Unity Bank account.

The Commission alleged that the funds were not only part of the proceeds of unlawful acts but they also exceeded “thresholds outside a financial institution,” and that the payments were done with the intention of concealing the origins of the funds contrary to Section 15(2(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same law.

According to the EFCC, the count one of the new charges against Adoke read: “That you Mohammed Bello Adoke, sometime in September 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, made a cash payment of the sum of $2,267,400.00 (Two Million, Two Hundred and Sixty-Seven Thousand, Four Hundred United States Dollars) to one Rislaundeen Muhammed, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to the combined effects 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.”

A new charge against Abubakar read. “That you Aliyu Abubakar, sometime in September 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, accepted a cash payment of the sum of $4,000,000.00 (Four Million United States Dollars) from Farmans Holdings Limited, through Abdulhakeem Uthman Mustapha, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to the combined effects of Section 16(1)(d) and of Section1(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.”

Both defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges, following which Akin Olujimi, SAN, counsel to the second defendant,  made an oral application, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to sit on the case while courts in the country are on vacation.

Justice Ekwo in response advised the counsel to make his application formal so that he could rule on it.

While reminding Olujimi that he could exercise his discretion as it pleased him in his court, he warned that a consequence of his application may be the revocation of the bail of his client.

Olujimi,  for the interest of his client’s liberty, beat a hasty retreat and withdrew the oral application.

The judge adjourned the case till August 11, 12 and 13, 2020 for commencement of trial.

It will be recalled that the defendants were arraigned on a seven-count charge before Justice Binta Nyako, on March 1, 2020, re-arraigned on June 17, 2020 on the same number of charges before Justice Ekwo  and re-arraigned again, August 4, 2020 on 14-count charge before the same judge.

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He was granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja on February 10, 2020, in the sum of N50million with one surety in like sum.

 

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