The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, will for the third time, on Tuesday, arraign a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), on amended money laundering charges involving about N400m.
The EFCC is to rearraign Adoke alongside a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar, before the Federal High Court in Abuja on the same set of charges.
The two defendants were earlier arraigned on February 8, 2020, before Justice Binta Nyako.
The case was later transferred to Justice Inyang Ekwo, also of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The reassignment of the case to a new judge necessitated the re-arraingment of the defendants before Justice Ekwo on June 17.
Justice Ekwo, had after the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges on June 17, adjourned till Monday for the commencement of trial.
But the trial could not start on Monday as scheduled due to a fresh amendment to the charges by the prosecution.
EFCC’s lawyer, Bala Sanga, told the judge that the commission filed the amended charges on July 29.
Responding, the judge frowned on the prosecution for the late filing of the amended charges just a few days to the commencement of trial.“
Justice Ekwo said, “From June 17 to July 17, you did nothing. That means you had one month and you didn’t file the amended charge. Just a few days to the trial, you filed an amended charge. A few days to when the trial is to commence.
“Although you have the freedom to amend your charge up to the time of judgment, I do not appreciate a situation where things are not done on time. This is a 2017 matter and I was thinking I could fast track it but now the prosecution has come up with an amendment.”
The judge adjourned till Tuesday for rearraingment of the defendants on the basis of the amended charges.
The case marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/39/2017, has seven counts, with six of them relating to Adoke.
EFCC alleged in the charges that they committed the money laundering offences involving over N400m in Abuja in September 2013.
In the counts concerning Adoke, he was accused of among others, receiving the dollar equivalent of N300m from Abubakar, paying the dollar equivalent of N367,318,800 to one Usman Mohammed Bello, and allegedly using the sum of N300m which was alleged to be part of the proceeds of unlawful activities, all in violations of various provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.
Adoke was also accused of making “structured cash payments, in 22 tranches” amounting to N80m, another of such structured payments in 13 tranches summing up to N50m into his Unity Bank account.
The commission alleged that the funds were not only part of the proceeds of unlawful acts but they also exceeded “thresholds outside a financial institution” and that the payments were done with the intention of concealing the origins of the funds contrary to section 15(2(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same law.
The only count concerning Abubakar was that he allegedly made the payment of dollar equivalent of N300m to Adoke’s account in violation of the money laundering law.
The defendants had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges.