Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court on Monday granted bail to the immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), to the sum of N50 million and one surety in the like sum.
In her ruling on the bail applications, Justice Nyako ordered that Adoke and his co-defendant, Aliyu Abubakar, should be released on bail on all the conditions that was earlier handed to them by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Gwagwalada on January 30.
The FCT High Court had in its ruling by Justice Abubakar Kutigi stressed that the sureties must be responsible citizens that must depose affidavits of means, adding that they must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court and own verifiable landed properties worth the bail sum.
The court further ordered the sureties to tender their three years tax clearance certificates, even as it seized international passports of all the defendants, warning them not to travel out of the country without permission.
It held that the defendants must sign a written undertaking not to interfere with any of the prosecution witnesses and to make themselves available for trial at all times.
The bail followed an initial 42-count corruption charge the EFCC preferred against the defendants over separate roles they played in the alleged fraudulent transfer of ownership of Oil Prospecting License, OPL 245, regarded as one of the biggest oil blocs in Africa.
Adoke and Mohammed were on Monday arraigned on a fresh seven-count charge of money laundering before the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Also arraigned with Adoke is Aliyu Abubakar who is accused of paying dollar equivalent of N300 million into Adoke’s account in September 2013 in violation of the Money Laundering Act.
Both Adoke and Abubakar are standing trial alongside others at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Gwagwalada, Abuja, in respect of the Malabu Oil scam.
After the charges were read to them by a court official, they all pleaded not guilty before Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
In the said charges, the prosecution alleged that the second defendant, in September 2013, made payments in naira and dollars, equivalent to about N300 million, into Adoke’s accounts in violation of various provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
Meanwhile, the prosecution counsel, Mr Bala Sanga, urged the court to remand both defendants in EFCC custody pending when their bail applications would be heard and determined.
However, the defence team led by Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), who appeared for Adoke, and Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) for Abubakar, informed the court that they had filed separate applications for the bail of their clients.
Meantime, Adoke told the court of his preference to be remanded in the Kuje Correctional Centre to the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
His lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), disclosed this while arguing his client’s bail application when he noted that his client was produced in court by the EFCC from the Federal Medical Centre near Jabi, Abuja, where he had been admitted for treatment
While arguing his bail application, Ozekhome, who urged the court to grant bail to the former AGF in liberal and affordable terms and conditions, said that Adoke would prefer to be remanded in the Kuje Correctional Centre instead of the custody of the EFCC.
“The first defendant voluntarily returned to the country. There is his statement attached to show that he returned to the country voluntarily,” Ozekhome said.
“He did not run away. We have attached an exhibit to show that he went for his Masters’ study abroad.
“We have deposed to the affidavit about his health conditions. The prosecution themselves brought him to court from the Federal Medical Centre near Jabib in Abuja, this morning.
“We also plead that he be taken to the Kuje Correction Centre, a euphemism for Kuje prison pending when he meets his bail conditions to avoid the mental psychological strictures he goes through in the custody of the EFCC.
“My lord, we pray that he be granted bail in liberal and affordable terms and conditions so that he can take care of himself.
“The law says, ‘come and stand trial’, it did not say ‘come and sit trial or come and prostate trial’.
“My lord, as you can see, the first defendant, who is less than 60, is already bent with age.”