Former Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have differed on a proposed plea bargain option in the alleged N109.4 billion fraud.
Idris was arraigned alongside Godfrey Olusegun Akindele, the Technical Assistant to the Accountant General of the Federation, Mohammed Kudu Usman, and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited.
The defendants however pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, bribery, and money laundering.
At the hearing on Wednesday, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) said third parties had approached the commission to negotiate the option instead of a full trial.
A plea bargain is one that allows a defendant enters a guilty plea to a lesser offence in exchange for a more lenient sentence or an agreement for some charges to be dropped.
However, defence counsel, Goddy Uche (SAN) insisted that an invitation was extended to his client for the negotiation without his knowledge.
He said a lawyer in his chambers, who went for the meeting, was surprised and decided to suspend the negotiation when they were asked to come to the EFCC chairman’s office.
“Plea bargain is a serious procedure in law which implies admission of guilt for a lesser punishment in exchange for forfeiture and to assist the prosecution as a witness in the trial,” he said.
Uche had also pleaded with the judge to adjourn the matter to enable him hold a conference with his client on about 10 exhibits sought to be tendered by the EFCC
Subsequently, Justice Jadesola Adeyemi-Ajayi adjourned the matter to October 4.
The EFCC is alleging that Idris had sometime between February and December 2021 at Abuja, used his position as the Accountant General of the Federation to accept gratification of N15.136,921.46 billion from Olusegun Akindele, which was converted into US dollars.
The sum was allegedly meant for accelerating the payment of 13 per cent derivation to the nine oil-producing states in the federation, through the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
He was further alleged to have, between February and November 2021, dishonestly received the sum of N84,390bn from the Federal Government of Nigeria through Akindele, trading under the name and style of Olusegun Akindele & Co.
The offences are contrary to Section 155 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and punishable under the same section; and Section 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.