The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed an additional seven charges against a former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke, SAN, over money laundering allegations involving about N400 million in September 2013.
The trial of the ex-AGF, who was initially re-arraigned alongside his co-defendant, Aliyu Abubakar, who, an oil tycoon, before Justice Inyang Ekwo on Wednesday, June 17, was expected to begin on Monday, but was stalled on account of the amended charges.
The initial charge contained seven counts, with six of them relating to Mr Adoke.
However, at the resumed trial on Monday, prosecution counsel Bala Sanga informed the court of an amended charge he filed on July 29 which was served on all the defendants.
Trial judge Ekwo, who frowned at the late filing of the amended charge, adjourned the trial until Tuesday on the ground that he is yet to sight the amended charges.
In the charge marked FHC/CR/89/2017, the prosecution alleged that Adoke had in September 2013 accepted the sum of US Dollars equivalent to N300 million from the 2nd Defendant, Abubakar, and, thereby, committed an offence under section 1 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act (2011, as amended) and punishable under section 16 (2)(b) of the same act.
The Federal Government further alleged that the former AGF, within the same period, made a payment of the sum of United States Dollars equivalent to N367,318,800 to one Usman Mohammed Bello.
In the counts relating to Mr Adoke, he was accused of, among other allegations, receiving the dollar equivalent of N300 million from Abubakar, paying the dollar equivalent of N367,318,800 to one Usman Mohammed Bello, and, allegedly, using the sum of N300 million, 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).
The former AGF was also accused of making ‘structured cash payments, in 22 tranches’ amounting to N80 million, another of such structured payments in 13 tranches summing up to N50 million into his Unity Bank account, which sums he knew exceeded the statutory threshold of funds an individual could receive outside a financial institution.
He is also alleged to have attempted to conceal the origins of the funds, contrary to section 15(2) (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act. The Federal Government has also alleged that the former AGF caused to be made on his behalf, structured cash payments, in 22 tranches, a total sum of N80 million into his Unity Bank Account, which sums he knew were part of an unlawful act.
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 EFCC alleged that the Adoke, who was arrested following his return to the country from Dubai on December 19, 2019, received gratification to facilitate the alleged oil bloc fraud. It alleged that it was Adoke that mediated controversial agreements that ceded OPL 245 to two oil giants, Shell and Eni, who in turn paid about $1.1 billion to accounts controlled by an ex-convict and former Petroleum Minister Chief Dan Etete. Abubakar, who is the owner of AA Oil, was said to have acted as a ‘middleman’ in the alleged $1.1 billion Malabu Oil deal.
Justice Nyako had on February 10 approved a N50 million bail sum with one surety in like sum, a condition an Abuja High Court at Gwagwalad handed to the defendants on January 30, after they were also arraigned on a separate corruption charge. The high court had insisted 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 the defendants, warning them not to travel out of the country without permission.
The bail followed an initial 42-count corruption charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) preferred against the defendants over the separate roles they played in the alleged fraudulent transfer of ownership of Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245, regarded as one of the largest oil blocs in Africa.