N450m fraud: Court adjourns ex minister’s case till February 4, 2021

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By Bode Olushegun

The money laundering trial of a former Minister of State for Power, Muhammad Wakil, has been adjourned by the Federal High Court sitting in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, till November 4, 2021.

Wakil is standing trial with four others in a case filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC before the Justice J.K. Dagad’s court.

The other defendants are Garba Abacha, Ibrahim Birma, Dr. Abubakar Kullima and Engr. Muhammad Kachalla.

They are alleged to have received the sum of N450m, being part of the $115million disbursed by the former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.

One of the charges read: “That you, Hon. Muhammad Wakil, Garba Abacha, Ibrahim Shehu Birma, Dr. Abubakar Ali Kullima and Engr. Muhammad Baba Kachalla on or about the 26th day of March, 2015 at Maiduguri, Borno State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did agree among yourselves to do an illegal act, to wit: conspiracy to commit money laundering and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended).”

The defendants were first arraigned before Justice M.T. Salihu on July 2, 2018. But his retirement from the bench necessitated the re-assignment of the case to a new judge.

When the matter was called on Wednesday, the Court Registrar presented a letter from Nankham Ayuba Dammo, counsel to the first, second and fourth defendants, wherein he informed the Court that he was indisposed and asked for adjournment on the grounds of ill-health.

Counsel to the fifth defendant, Z. Hamza also sent a letter asking for adjournment due to the fact that he was appearing in another matter before the Appeal Court, Gombe.

However, prosecuting counsel, Fatsuma Muhammad objected to the letter sent by counsel to the fifth defendant on the grounds that no hearing notice from the Gombe Division of the Court of Appeal was attached.

He thereby urged the court to discountenance his application.

After listening to counsel, Justice Dagad adjourned the case till February 4, 2021.

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