By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, ordered a trial-within-trial in the money laundering case the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, instituted against a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke(SAN).
The anti-graft agency is prosecuting the erstwhile AGF alongside an oil mogul, Mr. Aliyu Abubakar, on a 14-count charge.
In the charge, EFCC alleged that Adoke had sometime in August 2013, in Abuja, accepted a cash payment of the dollar equivalent of N300 million from Aliyu, and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 16 (2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended).
Whereas Abubakar was also accused of accepting a cash payment of the sum of $4 million from Faman Holdings Limited, through one Abdulhakeem Uthman Mustapha, in September 2013, the prosecution, told the court that Adoke, made structured cash payment in tranches into his Unity Bank Plc Account No. 0020153263.
The prosecution maintained that the former AGF made cash payments that exceeded the approved threshold amounts, outside a financial institution.
At the resumed proceedings in the matter on Monday, Adoke’s co-defendant, Abubakar, told the court that a statement he made before the EFCC in respect of the case, was under duress.
Therefore, the defendant, through his lawyer, Mr. Paul Erokoro(SAN), challenged the admissibility of the statement he was was not made voluntarily.
Abubakar raised the issue, midway into the evidence of EFCC’s eight prosecution witness, Mr. Ibrahim Ahmed, who was one of the operatives that investigated the matter in 2012.
Sequel to the objection, trial Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned the matter till Tuesday for the court to conduct trial-within-trial to ascertain the voluntariness or otherwise of the Defendant’s extrajudicial statement to the EFCC.
Meanwhile, the court, equally adjourned till Tuesday to hear another money laundering case the EFCC entered against Abubakar, Malabu Oil & Gas Limited and six companies with respect to transactions relating to the disputed Oil Prospecting Licence, OPL, 245.
The companies accused of complicity in the about $1.1billion fraud, are; A Group Construction Company Limited; Rocky Top Resources Limited; Megatech Engineering Limited; Novel Properties and Development Company Limited, Imperial Union Limited and Carlin International Nigeria Limited.
All the defendants had since pleaded not guilty to the 48-count charge against them.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter to enable counsel to the Defendants to cross-examine the witness.