Inyang Ekwo, judge of a federal high court in Abuja, on Monday frowned at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for its lateness in filing an amended charge against Mohammed Bello Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation (AGF).
At the commencement of trial, Bala Sanga, counsel to the EFCC, had notified the court that the commission has filed an amended charge against Adoke.
He said the discovery of additional pieces of evidence necessitated the amendment of the charges filed on July 17.
Displeased, Ekwo said the EFCC had more than one month from the last adjourned date to amend and file charges against the defendants.
He said the case ought to be given speedy dispensation considering the fact that it was filed in 2017.
He said: “From June 17 to July 17, you did nothing. That means you had one month and you didn’t file the amended charge. Just a few days to the trial, you filed an amended charge. A few days to when trial is to commence.
“Although you have freedom to amend your charge up to the time of judgement, I do not appreciate a situation where things are not done on time. This is a 2017 matter and I was thinking I could fast track it but now the prosecution has come up with an amendment.
“I do not have the amended charges in the court file so I can’t say anything about the amended charge.”
Sanga apologised to the court for the lateness in filing the charges.
He begged the court for a stand down to enable him put things in order.
However, the judge refused the request for a stand down and adjourned the matter till Tuesday for continuation.
The commission had in February arraigned Adoke alongside Aliyu Abubakar, a businessman, on a seven-count charge bordering on money laundering.
The anti-graft commission alleged that Adoke received gratification to the tune of N300 million from Aliyu Abubakar in September 2013.
Owing to a petition by the anti-graft against her in 2018, Nyako, the first trial judge, recused herself from the case.
Subsequently, the case was transferred to Ekwo and the accused persons were re-arraigned on June 17.
The charges have now been increased to 14 counts following the amendment.
In a sister case with suit no FHC/ABJ/CR/268/2016 and filed in 2016, Adoke was charged alongside seven others including Dauzia Loya Etete (Dan Etete), former Minister of Petroleum Resources and Malabu oil and gas limited.
However, his name was expunged from the charges when the other defendants (Abubakar, Malabu Oil and six other companies) were re-arraigned on a 48-count charge before Ekwo on July 1, even though the EFCC denied removing Adoke’s name from the charges despite documentary evidence.
Adoke is also standing trial on 42 counts of alleged fraud before a federal capital territory high court in Gwagwalada in what his lawyers called “duplication of charges”.
All the cases can be linked to the Malabu oil deal of 2011.
Adoke has always denied all the allegations, accusing the EFCC of manufacturing evidence to implicate him.
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