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$1.1bn Malabu Scam: Lack of service of charge stalls Adoke, others arraignment

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I’ll expose illegalities going on in this country, says Adoke

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

Adoke

ABUJA — Planned ar- raignment of the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, on corruption charges, was stalled yesterday, due to failure of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to serve copies of the charge on the defendants.

Adoke,  was to be arraigned on a 42-count charge, following alleged role he played in the $1.1 billion Malabu Oil block fraud.

Other defendants in the charge are Aliyu Abubakar, Rasky Gbinigie, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited.

However, when the case was called up, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Bala Sanga, told the court that the prosecution was unable to serve all the defendants with the charge.

READ ALSO:Onnoghen to FG: You’ve no powers to try me at CCT

He told the court that the 2nd defendant, Abubakar was on the run and was arrested about 15 minutes before the proceeding commenced.

However, Adoke, through his team of lawyers led by Chief Paul Erokoro, SAN, told the court that he was willing to waive his right to be served with the charge in order for the trial to proceed.

Adoke said, it was unfortunate though he has been in EFCC’s custody since November 19, 2019, the agency did not deem it fit to furnish him with the charge against him.

Another senior lawyer in his team, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN,  told the court that they got to know that their client would be arraigned, through the internet.  He said the former AGF had repeatedly begged the EFCC to avail him with a copy of the charge, but was ignored.

On his part, counsel to the 2nd defendant, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, told the court that EFCC lied when it alleged that his client was on the run.

Oanipekun wondered why the commission would claim that his client who was in the dock and voluntarily appeared in the court for arraignment before his purported arrest, was at large. He admitted that EFCC had on January 20, served the 2nd defendant with the charge, through a lawyer he identified as Ahmed Audu.

Counsel to the 3rd defendant, Mahmud Magaji, SAN, told the court that his client was invited by the EFCC for a chat and was since then detained.

Likewise, counsel to the 5th defendant, Agip, Chief Joe Gadzama, SAN, said his client was served with the charge, though he expressed displeasure that notice of the arraignment was not served on them.

Meanwhile, though all the defendants said, they were willing to accept copies of the charge in the open court, Justice Idris Kutigi shifted the arraignment till Thursday and ordered EFCC to ensure that it served the charge on them.

He said the defendants were also at liberty to file their bail applications.

Meantime, immediately the proceeding ended, Adoke, in a brief interview with journalists, said he was not surprised that the trial could not go on.

He said, “I am not disappointed, I expected it.  I was not served even though I have been in their custody for the past five weeks.

“I came back to this country voluntarily to defend myself as the former AGF and I am happy that this is an opportunity for Nigerians to know the persecution and illegalities that are going on in this country.  We must not allow situation where political colouration dictates the liberty of a human being,” Adoke added.

Vanguard

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