The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on January 23, 2020 arraigned Muhammed Bello Adoke, before Justice A.I. Kutigi of Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja.
Adoke, a former attorney-general of the federation and minister of Justice is facing an amended 42-count charge. He is being tried alongside Aliyu Abubakar, Mr. Rasky Gbinigie, Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, Nigeria Agip Exploration, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Ltd and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production.
Adoke is accused of using public office for gratification, an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 115(a) of the Panel Code, Cap. 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja)1990 and punishable under Section 115(i) of the same Penal Code.
EFCC counsel, Bala Sanga stated that the matter was for arraignment and subject to the convenience of the court applied that the charges be read to the defendants. According to him, “We have on 14/01/2020 filed a forty-two count charge. However, we filed an amended charge dated 23/01/2020 and filed on the same date. My lord, we only amended, but we can confirm the proof of evidence, and subject to the convenience of the court we are applying for the charge to be read to them.”
Count one of the charges reads: “That you, Muhammed Bello Adoke, while being a public servant, as attorney-general and minister of Justice of the federation, sometime in August 2013, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, accepted from Aliyu Abubakar for yourself a gratification of US dollars equivalent of N300,000,000.00 (Three Hundred Million Naira) only other than lawful remuneration, as a motive for facilitating and negotiating the Block 245 Resolution Agreement with Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited, and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 115(a) of the Penal Code, Cap. 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja)1990 and punishable under Section 115(i) of the same Penal Code.”
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
In view of the plea, Sanga applied to the court to remand the first, second and third defendants in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services.
The first, second and third defence counsels, however, applied for bail of their clients, which was opposed to by the prosecution.
Sanga said: “I can confirm that they served us the application for bail. I will move to oppose the bail because it is premature, I need time.
“For the third defendant, we were served at 2:54pm, for the second, we were served at 2:03pm, for the first it was about 3:15pm yesterday, all of them yesterday.”
He therefore requested for time to respond to their bail application.
Defence counsel, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, however, urged the court to keep all the defendents in the custody of the EFCC instead of the correctional service. The third defence counsel adopted the position of the first and second defence counsel.
The second defence counsel, afterwards, sought for a five minutes stand down, and when the court resumed, the second defence counsel told the court that both the defence and the prosecution had agreed that the defendants will be kept in the custody of the EFCC.
Justice Kutigi, therefore, ordered that they should be remanded in the custody of the EFCC and adjourned the case to January 27, 2020 for hearing on the bail application.