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EFCC’s late filing of amended charge delays trial of Adoke, others

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THE re-scheduled trial of former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke was stalled on Monday, at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja due to the late filing of an amended charge by the prosecution team.

Adoke, alongside Aliyu Abubakar who is an Abuja-based businessman are facing a seven-count charge filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for laundering about N400 million.

He is alleged to have played a prominent role in the sale of sale of the Nigerian oil license OPL 245.

The lucrative OPL 245 oil block was allocated in 1998 for $20million – a fraction of its value now – to Malabu Oil & Gas, a company secretly owned by the then oil Minister, Dan Etete.

The presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo at the hearing noted that the amended charge was not in the court’s file and wondered why the prosecution delayed until July 29 to file an amended charge.

Bala Sanga, the lead prosecuting lawyer for the EFCC at the hearing told the court he had an amended charge rather than bring the witness.

Justice Ekwo then adjourned till August 4 for the defendants’ re-arraignment on the amended charge and possible commencement of trial.

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Six counts in the earlier charge involved Adoke, with one relating to Abubakar. They were alleged  to have committed the offences in Abuja in 2013.

Adoke was accused of receiving the dollar equivalent of N300 million from Abubakar while 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.

The former AGF 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 EFCC claimed that the fund were not only part of the proceeds of unlawful acts but they also exceeded “thresholds outside a financial institution” and  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.

Abubakar was accused of making the payment of dollar equivalent of N300 million to Adoke’s account in violation of the money laundering law.

The anti-graft agency is also making several efforts to prosecute Adoke on claims of his involvement in the controversial Malabu Oil deal which includes abuse of office for granting Oil Prospective License (OPL) 245 to Shell and ENI illegally.

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