Malabu oil scam: Court grants former AGF, Adoke, N50m bail

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday granted bail to a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), and his co-defendant, Aliyu Abubakar, who were arraigned on a seven-count charge bordering on bribe-taking, money laundering, breach of public office, among others.

The trial Judge, Justice Binta Nyako, in a ruling on the bail application, ordered that Adoke and his co-defendant should be released on bail on all the conditions that were earlier handed to them by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Gwagwalada.

The Abuja High Court, presided over by Justice Abubakar Kutigi had on January 30, 2020, granted the duo bail to the tune of N50 million with one surety in like sum.

The court in the ruling stressed that the sureties must be responsible citizens that must dispose of 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 all the defendants, warning them not to travel out of the country without permission.

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It held that the defendants must sign a written undertaking not to interfere with any of the prosecution witnesses and to make themselves available for trial at all times.

The bail followed an initial 42-count corruption charge the EFCC preferred against the defendants over separate roles they played in the alleged fraudulent transfer of ownership of Oil Prosecuting License, OPL, 245.

After pleading not guilty to the seven-count charge preferred against them yesterday, their counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Bala Sanga, representing Adoke and Aliyu Abubakar respectively moved the application for their bail.

Arguing the bail application, Ozekhome prayed the court to grant Adoke bail in self-recognition being a former AGF, pending the hearing of the charges.

He said in the alternative, Adoke should be granted bail on favourable and liberal terms, or better still to allow Adoke enjoy bail terms as already granted him by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

He said Adoke has never been convicted of any crime and that the charges before the court are bailable offences, just as he said bail is a constitutional right and a defendant should not be denied his right of freedom of free movement until when he is convicted.

Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), counsel to the second defendant also argued along same line with counsel to the first defendant.

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However, the prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga, in his submission, urged the court to use its discretionary power to grant the defendants bail.

Justice Nyako, after listening to submissions of counsel, granted the defendants bail in the same conditions granted by the High Court of Abuja where the former AGF and others are facing a 42-count charge.

Nyako also ordered that Adoke’s international passport should be deposited with the Abuja High Court and that he should not travel outside the jurisdiction of the court without permission.

The judge then adjourned the matter till April 1 and 2, 2020 for the commencement of trial.

Adoke’s codefendant is facing only one-count charge, of allegedly offering a bribe to the former AGF.

Adoke was accused in count one of accepting as payment the sum of United States Dollars equivalent to N300 million from Abubakar Aliyu in September 2013 in Abuja, thereby violating the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended).

Count seven reads, “That you Aliyu Abubakar, sometime in September 2013, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, made a payment of the sum of United States Dollars equivalent to N300 million to Mohammed Bello Adoke”, thereby violating and the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended).

The anti-graft agency, according to its council has lined up four key witnesses against to prove its charges against Adoke and his codefendant.

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