THE planned arraignment of the former Director General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayodele Oke, and his wife, Folashade, has failed as both defendants were absent from court on Friday.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had filed a four-count charge bothering on money laundering and abuse of office against Oke, following the discovery of a large cache of cash in a luxury residential apartment alleged to have been bought by his wife in Ikoyi, Lagos State.
Oke had claimed that the money belongs to the NIA and that it was approved for the agency by former President Goodluck Jonathan to be used for some covet security operations.
However, an investigative panel headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo found Oke guilty of some wrongdoing with regards to the development and recommended that he should be removed from office.
Nothing was heard about the case again until the EFCC announced on Wednesday that criminal charges have been filed against Oke and his wife at the Federal High Court, Lagos, and that they will be arraigned on Friday.
One of the charges against the former NIA boss read: “That you, Ambassador Ayodele Oke, Mrs Folashade Ayodele Oke, on or about the 12th day of April 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, indirectly conceded the sum of $43,449,947.00 (Forty-three million, four hundred and forty-nine thousand, nine hundred and forty-seven United States Dollars) property of the federal government of Nigeria in Flat 7B, No 16 Osborne Road, Osborne Towers , Ikoyi Lagos, which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15[a] of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012, and punishable under section 15 of the same act.”
Oke was also accused of laundering another $1.658 million, as well as the sum of $160,777,136.85 which he converted to his personal use by using it to purchase the Osborne Tower apartment.
The EFCC had listed 13 witnesses it intends to call during the trial, including persons who had received almost $300 million from the Central Bank of Nigeria and delivered to Oke.
An EFCC prosecutor told journalists at the court premises on Friday that the commission would issue a statement on the development later in the day.
Meanwhile, there are reports that Oke and his wife have jetted out of Nigeria, purportedly on a medical trip to Europe. A report published by TheCable Thursday quoted reliable sources as saying that the couple left Nigeria weeks ago.