The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, granted permission to a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke, to travel abroad for medical check-up.

Mr Adoke who is standing trial along with another defendant on money laundering charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had deposed his passport as part of conditions of bail granted him by the court.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the court granted permission to Mr Adoke to travel to the United Arab Emirate (UAE) for the medical check- up from October 11 to November 15.

The prosecution represented by Nnenna Oko did not oppose the application moved by Mr Adoke’s lawyer, Kanu Agabi.

In his ruling, the trial judge, Inyang Ekwo, ordered that his traveling documents especially the passport deposited with the court as part of his bail conditions be released to him.

Mr Ekwo while granting the request of the former AGF, however, ordered that Mr Adoke’s lawyer, Kanu Agabi, to give an undertaking on behalf of his client before the passport would be released.

The judge also directed the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court to notify the Nigeria Immigration Service of the court’s order.

The court further ordered that the ex-AGF must, upon his return to Nigeria, surrender the passport to the court.

The suit was adjourned till December 6, 7 and 8 for resumption of trial.

Background

The EFCC had on August 4, 2020 re-arraigned Messrs Adoke and Aliyu Abubakar on an amended 14-count charge bordering on money laundering.

Each of them facing seven counts had pleaded not guilty.

In count 9 of the charges, the EFCC had alleged that Adoke, sometimes in 2013, in Abuja, “made a cash payment of $2,267,400 to Risslanudeen Muhammed” and thereby “committed an offence contrary to the combined effect of section 16(1)(d) and of section 19a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 16(2)(b) of the same Act”.

Messrs Adoke and Abubakar are also standing trial alongside others in a separate case before the Federal High Court and at the FCT High Court in Gwagwalada in Abuja, in respect of the Malabu Oil scam charges.

The Malabu scam

The Malabu scandal involved the transfer of about $1.1 billion by Shell and ENI through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by a former Nigerian petroleum minister, Dan Etete.

From accounts controlled by Mr Etete, about half the money ($520 million) went to accounts of companies controlled by Aliyu Abubakar, popularly known in Nigeria as the owner of AA Oil.

Anti-corruption investigators and activists suspect he fronted for top officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration as well of officials of Shell and ENI.

The transaction was authorised in 2011 by Mr Jonathan through some of his cabinet ministers and the money was payment for OPL 245, one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks.

The oil resources of the OPL 245 license have remained undeveloped since the controversies began.

Eni initiated international arbitration proceedings against Nigeria in September, alleging the government has breached its obligations by refusing to let the firm develop the license, which has now expired this May.

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