The money laundering trial of a former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke, was stalled at the Federal High Court in Abuja due to his absence on Monday.
His lawyer, Kanu Agabi, who is also a former AGF, told the judge, Inyang Ekwo, that Mr Adoke was stranded in the United Arab Emirate (UAE), where he had travelled to for a medical check-up.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the judge on December 15, 2020, granted Mr Adoke permission to travel to UAE on health grounds and directed him to return to Nigeria on January 10 ahead of the Monday’s scheduled hearing.
This newspaper also reported on Sunday that while in Dubai, UAE, Mr Adoke tested positive for COVID-19, a status which only turned negative following a repeat test he underwent at a Dubai hospital Sunday.
Mr Agabi told the judge on Monday that his client had earlier tested positive to the virus at his point of returning to Nigeria as a result of which he was held back by the UAE authorities.
He said the former minister tested negative after he was treated but was unable to immediately fly back to Nigeria as ordered by the court.
He said, “My lord, me apologise to you that the first defendant in the 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 the country, he tested negative but unfortunately, while in the UAE, he tested positive at his point of return to Nigeria.
“However, he is now negative after the treatment, but he was unable to get a flight back to the country.”
He said Mr Adoke would be able to return to the country on Tuesday.
Mr Agabi further pleaded with the judge to extend the time given to the defendant to appear in court to enable him to take care of himself and be fit for the continuation of his trial.
The prosecuting counsel, Bala Sanga, and the second defendant’s lawyer, Emmanuel Ikechi, did not oppose Mr Agabi’s request.
The judge granted the request and adjourned till March 1 to 4.
Mr Adoke and his co-defendant, Aliyu Abubakar, are being prosecuted on 14 amended counts involving alleged transaction involving cash payments above the cash limit set by the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended).
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