BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA— The Federal Government, yesterday, entered fresh nine-count criminal charge against the eldest son of the late military dictator, Mohammed Abacha, following allegation that he unlawfully hid about N446.3 billion allegedly stolen from the national treasury between 1995 and 1998.
Mohammed was accused of receiving the stolen money from his late father, General Sani Abacha, and concealed same.
Specifically, the Federal Government alleged that Mohammed “dishonestly received stolen property and voluntarily assisted in concealing money.”
The charge, according to government, replaced an earlier 121 criminal counts in which Mohammed was sued alongside one of his alleged accomplice, Atiku Bagudu.
The government excluded Bagudu in the fresh charge, even as Vanguard investigations yesterday revealed that FG intend to use him as a witness against Mohammed.
According to the new charge marked CR.21 24/2008, the stolen money allegedly received by Mohammed, included 141,100,000 Pound Sterling and 384,353,000 US dollars, made up of cash and travellers cheques.
A private prosecutor, Mr. Daniel Enwelum, has been hired by the government to prosecute the case to its logical conclusion.
Meanwhile, attempt to arraign Mohammed before Justice Mamman Kolo of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory yesterday proved abortive owing to his absence.
Enwelum told the court that even when Mohammed had been served with the charge, with evidence to that effect contained in a sworn affidavit by the court’s bailiff, the accused person refused to present himself for arraignment.
He said the new charge against Mohammed was filed pursuant to Section 181 of the Criminal Procedure Code, CPC.
Enwelum urged the court to accept the fresh charge and deem the receipt of the charge by the defence lawyer on behalf of the accused person, as proper service.
He said Mohammed’s lawyer, Abdulllahi Haruna had received the charge on his behalf.
However, Haruna told the court that Mohammed was absent owing to the fact that he was yet to receive a copy of the fresh charge.
He, therefore, urged the court to adjourn the case to a further date to enable his client to appear for arraignment.
Meantime, counsel to Bagudu, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), urged the court to grant an order discharging his client from the charge in view of the prosecution’s decision to exclude him from the new charge.
The government did not oppose the application, even as Justice Kolo accordingly discharged the 2nd accused person, Bagudu.
Subsequently, the court, yesterday, fixed April 29 to take Mohammed Abacha’s plea.