Ex-AGF, Adoke stranded in UAE over COVID-19, lawyer tells court

Counsel to Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Godwin Kanu Agabi (SAN) on Monday told a Federal High Court in Abuja that Adoke is presently stranded in the United Arab Emirate (UAE), where he tested positive to COVID-19.

Agabi who is the lead counsel to Adoke in the alleged money laundering charges filed against Adoke and a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) conveyed the plight of the former AGF to Justice Inyang Ekwo on yesterday.

Adoke was granted permission to travel abroad for medical examination on December 11, 2020 following a plea to that effect.

Justice Ekwo, who ordered the release of the ex-AGF’s international passport to him, gave him the permission to travel between December 15 and return on January 10, 2021, a day before the scheduled resumption of his trial.

However, at the resumed proceeding yesterday, Adoke was not in court prompting the Agabi 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 of the UAE.

The SAN further told the court that Adoke later tested negative to the coronavirus after his treatment but was unable to get 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 flight to the country. Happily, he will return tomorrow, January 12, 2021,” he told the court.

Agabi informed the court that an application dated January 4, 2021 and filed 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 the continuation of his trial and assured that the former minister would make himself available for his trial in the next adjourned date.

Counsel to the 2nd defendant (Aliyu Abubakar), Emmanuel. C. Ikechi, who held brief for Chief Akin Olujimi, (SAN) did not oppose the application, the prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga, also did not oppose the request for adjournment on the ground that he had been regular in court and in the interest of justice.

Justice Ekwo subsequently adjourned the matter till March 1, 2021 for the continuation of trial.

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