AFTER his temporary remand at the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Federal Government has finally charged Mohammed Adoke, ex-Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) with 42-count charges bordering on fraud and money laundering.
He was arraigned before Justice Idris Kutigi of the Gwagwalada Division, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Abuja.
Kutigi ordered his return to the EFCC’s custody with two of his co-defendants after they all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The presiding judge had earlier considered remanding the accused persons in the facility of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) until Monday.
He, however, changed his mind and directed the EFCC officials to take the ex-AGF along with them. This was after the Defence counsels had pleaded with Bala Sanga, the EFCC prosecuting counsel to keep the former Minister pending his bail application.
Aside from Mike Ozekhome, other senior lawyers in the defence team include Sola Olaonipekun, Kanu Agabi, Mahmud Magaji, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN).
Adoke’s trial was stalled yesterday due to the inability of the EFCC to serve the charges leveled against the former AGF and the other accused persons.
This made the presiding judge adjourn the hearing to today.
Some of the charges against Adoke include N300 million bribe, accepting gratifications while negotiating Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 resolution with the multinational companies, Shell, Eni, and their local subsidiaries.
The former AGF was also accused of money laundering and abuse of office.
In December, days after Adoke’s arrival from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he was picked by the Interpol and presented to the EFCC.
The EFCC later got the court’s permission to detain the lawyer all through the Christmas season until yesterday when he appeared in court.
Ozekhome, the leading defence counsel had in December, charged the EFCC to complete their homework before commencing proper trial rather than subjecting his client to mental, physical and psychological pressure.
“One would have expected that the EFCC would have finished all its investigations and as soon as they arrest Adoke, they will just charge him to court. That is what is done in civilised countries of the world.
“Why would you want to keep him for another two weeks, according to them, to investigate? What were you investigating before you charged him to court? It is investigation before being charged to court. You don’t charge to court, and then investigate.
“You don’t hold a person and use that to wear him out psychologically, physically, mentally before you now begin to charge him to court.”