From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The trial of the former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Mohammed Adoke, SAN, on alleged money laundering offences has been stalled by reasons of his absence in court on Monday.
His counsel, also a former AGF, Mr Godwin Agabi, SAN, informed Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court that Adoke has told a federal high court in Abuja that Adoke is stranded in the United Arab Emirate (UAE), where he tested positive for the COVID-19.
Adoke is standing trial alongside a business mogul, Aliyu Abubakar, on alleged money laundering charges filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Adoke was granted permission to travel abroad for medical examination on December 11, 2020, following a plea to that effect.
The judge, who ordered the release of the ex-AGF’s international passport to him, gave him permission to travel between December 15 and return on January 10, 2021, a day before the scheduled resumption of the trial.
However, at the resumed proceeding, Adoke was not in court prompting the senior lawyer to apologise to the court for the absence.
Agabi told Justice Ekwo that his client tested positive to the disease at the point of his return to Nigeria, and was subsequently held back by the authorities.
The lawyer further told the court that Adoke later tested negative to the coronavirus after his treatment but was unable to get a flight to the country as ordered by the court.
‘My Lord, let me apologise to you that the 1st defendant in this matter, Mohammed Bello Adoke, is not in court today due to circumstances beyond his control.
‘I thank this court for granting him permission to travel abroad for medical examination.
“Before he left this country, he tested negative. But unfortunately while in the UAE, he tested positive at his point of his return to Nigeria.
‘However. he is now negative after the treatment but he was unable to get a flight to the country. Happily, he will return tomorrow, January 12, 2021,’ he said.
Agabi informed the court that an application dated January. 4 and filed the same day, seeking for an extension of time to avail the 1st defendant of the opportunity to take care of himself had already been brought before the court.
He then prayed the court to extend the time within which Adoke would be allowed to appear in court for his trial continuation.
The senior lawyer however assured that the former Minister would make himself available for his trial in the next adjourned date.
The 2nd defendant (Aliyu Abubakar)’s counsel, Emmanuel C Ikechi, who held brief for Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, did not oppose the application.
The prosecution counsel, Mr Bala Sanga, did not oppose the adjournment plea on the ground that had been regular in court and in the interest of justice.
Justice Ekwo subsequently adjourned the matter until March 1 to March 4 for trial continuation.