The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday re-arraigned a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide, before the Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly laundering the sum of N650m.
Akinjide was re-arraigned alongside Senator Ayo Adeseun and Chief Olanrewaju Otiti before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on an amended 24 counts.
The ex-minister and her co-defendants had been arraigned on January 16, 2018, before Justice Muslim Hassan on an amended 24 counts bordering on fraud and money laundering which they pleaded not guilty to.
The trial of the defendants had begun when during a trial-within-trial, the defence requested that the case be transferred to another judge and the case was subsequently transferred to Justice Aneke.
The EFCC, in the 24 charges filed against the defendants, alleged that they collected the sum of N650m from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections which the anti-graft agency claimed that they ought to have “reasonably known that the money formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act.”
Akinjide was said to have allegedly given a cash sum of N107.4m to Otti and N134.4m to Adeseun out of the N650m on March 26, 2015.
She also allegedly gave N26.5m cash to one Ayoka Lawani; N56.4m to one Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha; N28.6m to one Muraina Ajibola; N16m to one Yinka Taiwo and N10.7m to one Prince Ayuba.
Counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the cash payments exceeded the threshold stipulated by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2012.
Upon their arraignment before Justice Aneke on Wednesday, the defendants pleaded not guilty and counsel for Akinjide, Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), urge the court to allow her to continue on the existing bail granted earlier by the previous court.
Counsel for Adeseun and Otiti, Michael Lana and Akinola Oladeji respectively also urged the court to allow their clients to continue on the existing bail conditions.
Opposing the prayer of the counsel, Rotimi urged the court to order the defendants to apply for a new bail condition, adding that he has evidence showing how the defendants attempted to pervert the cause of justice.
However, Justice Aneke in a short ruling granted the application of the defendants to continue on the existing bail earlier granted to them by the former trial judge.
He said, “I am of the view that bail should not be used to serve as punishment on the defendants whom the constitution presume innocent until otherwise is proved.
“Consequently, I ordered that the defendants should continue on the existing bail earlier granted to them by Justice Muslim Hassan”.
Justice Aneke adjourned till September 30 and October 11 for trial.