The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned a former Minister of Science and Technology, Abdu Bulama, for alleged money laundering to the tune of N450 million.
In a statement by EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, Mr Bulama was arraigned
on Monday on a seven-count charge before the Federal High Court in Damaturu, Yobe State.
He was re-arraigned alongside four others including a former Commissioner for Integrated and Rural Development in Yobe State, Mohammed Kadai, Abba Tata, Muhammad Mamu and Hassan Jaks.
The commission accused the ex-minister of allegedly collecting N450 million from Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election as the coordinator of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2015 re-election campaign committee in Yobe State.
Mr Kadai was deputy coordinator, while the other three defendants were members of the committee.
The commission said the offence is punishable under Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended.
The defendants pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges preferred against them by the EFCC.
Following their pleas of not guilty, the prosecution counsel, Mukhtar Ahmed, asked the court for a trial date and to remand the defendants in the correctional centre pending the determination of the case.
The lead counsel for the defendants, E. A. Adenitan, informed the court that bail applications had been filed and served on the court and the prosecution. He, therefore, urged the court to grant bail to the defendants pending trial.
EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Ahmed, opposed the bail application, urging the court to grant an accelerated hearing ‘‘pursuant to Section 19 of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004.’’
He, however, said that should the court be willing to grant them bail, the bail conditions, ‘‘should be such that will guarantee their attendance in court regularly to face trial.’’
Justice Aminu, after listening to both parties, granted the defendants bail in the sum of N50 million each with two sureties in the sum of N25 million each.
The sureties may be private businessmen or professionals in any field or profession, the court said. They must also submit to the registrar of the court, their tax clearance certificates for the last two years.
All the defendants shall submit their passports, official/diplomatic passports or any international documents that can be used to travel out of the country to the court.
Justice Aminu adjourned the matter till January, 18, 19 and 20, 2022 for commencement of trial.
He ordered that the defendants be remanded in Potiskum Correctional Facility pending the fulfilment of their bail conditions.
The defendants were first arraigned on May 29, 2018, before Hammada Isa Dashen of the Federal High Court, Damaturu, Yobe State, on a seven-count charge of criminal conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N450 million.
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During the trial before the judge, the prosecution counsel, Mukhtar Ali Ahmed, presented six witnesses and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence by the court.
At the close of the prosecution’s case, the defendants opted for a “no-case submission” and their prayers were granted by Mr Dashen as they were discharged and acquitted.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC approached the Court of Appeal to have the decision of the lower court set aside.
On March 3, the Court of Appeal, in its judgment, upheld the argument of the EFCC that the lower court erred in law by discharging and acquitting the defendants.
The appellate court ordered that the case be returned to the Federal High Court and assigned to a judge other than Mr Dashen and be heard afresh.
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