The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) on Monday, re-arraigned a former justice minister, Mohammed Adoke, before the Federal High Court in Abuja, on fresh money laundering charges.
He was arraigned alongside a controversial businessman, Mr Abubakar, on a seven-count charge.
Of the seven charges, Mr Adoke had six counts while Mr Abubakar had one count.
The duo are standing trial alongside others at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Gwagwalada in Abuja, in respect of the Malabu Oil scam.
The two defendants pleaded not guilty to the seven count charges, when read to them on Monday before Justice Binta Nyako.
According to the anti-graft agency, the duo, in September 2013, made payments (in naira and dollar), of about N900m into the former AGF’s accounts.
This is in violation of various provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, EFCC said.
After the defendants took their pleas, the prosecution lawyer, Bala Sanga, urged the court to remand them in EFCC custody pending when their bail applications would be heard and determined.
But the defence lawyers, led by Kanu Agabi for Mr Adoke and Wole Olanipekun for Mr Abubakar, informed the court that they had filed separate applications for the bail of their clients.
The court took the counsel’s argument.
In their argument, one of Mr Adoke’s lawyers, Mike Ozekhome, asked that “the applicant be granted bail on a favourable, liberal and easy affordable terms.”
Mr Ozekhome further said, “or an order allowing the applicant continue to enjoy the bail conditions already granted him in a sister case.”
The senior lawyer said the purpose of bail is to allow the applicant enjoy temporary freedom, which he added, is according to section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He further told Justice Nyako that Mr Adoke was brought to court by the commission directly from the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi.
On his part, Mr Olanipekun, also pleaded that the second defendant be granted bail as he has just one count charge and that he should also be granted bail on liberal terms.
But, the prosecution lawyer, who said he has no objection to keeping the defendants in the correctional facility in Kuje, urged the court not to grant Mr Adoke bail.
During the bail application, Justice Nyako, made it clear that, “once a person is arraigned before a court, it becomes the subject of the state and the only place to keep that person is the correctional centre.”
After taking arguments from the lawyers in the matter, Justice Nyako, stood down to 2.pm, to rule on the bail application.
The EFCC has been on the heels of Mr Adoke for his alleged role in the controversial transfer of Nigeria’s OPL 245 oil field.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how almost half of the $1.1 billion paid by Shell and Eni in a controversial OPL 245 deal negotiated by Mr Adoke and some other officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, ended in accounts controlled by Mr Abubakar.
The oil multinationals paid the money through the Nigerian government to Malabu, a company then controlled by Dan Etete, a former petroleum minister, who is on the run.
Malabu, which was illegally awarded OPL 245 when Mr Etete was a minister in 1998, then transferred about half of the money into accounts partly controlled by Mr Abubakar.
The EFCC alleges that Mr Abubakar distributed the money to some top officials of Shell and Eni as well as some officials of the Jonathan administration.
The EFCC also believes Mr Adoke received N300 million from Mr Abubakar in 2013. The anti-graft agency alleges that was his share of the Malabu windfall.
Shell, Eni, and their officials are already being prosecuted in Italy for the scandal.
Mr Adoke has denied any wrongdoing and said the actions taken in respect of the transfer of the bloc were based on the instructions of former president Goodluck Jonathan, and in the best interest of Nigeria.
In 2015, the former minister went on a self-imposed exile outside Nigeria. He eventually travelled to Dubai where he was arrested by Interpol, at the prompting of the EFCC.
Upon his return to Nigeria, he was arrested at the Abuja airport and handed over to the EFCC on December 19.
Mr Adoke was first arraigned in January over the Malabu oil scandal. The EFCC accuses him of facilitating a deal that saw $1.1 billion paid illegally to questionable characters over the oil block 245. He denies the charges.
He was later granted bail, but despite meeting the conditions, the EFCC failed to release him.