Alleged Money Laundering : Court Strikes Out Charge Against Akinjide, 2 others
Story By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
The Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos has struck out the charge against a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide and 2 others on allegations of fraud and money laundering to the tune of N650m.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke struck out the charge for being incompetent.
Ms Akinjide was standing trial alongside a former Senator who represented Oyo Central Senatorial District between 2011 and 2015, Senator Ayo Adeseun and a PDP Chieftain, Mrs Olanrewaju Otiti.
They were all alleged to have received monies from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
The money was said to be part of the $115 million allegedly disbursed by Alison-Madueke, to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election
They had all pleaded not guilty to the charge after which trial commenced in the matter.
The defendants then challenged the trial and asked that the charge be struck out. They also insisted that they could only be tried in the division where the offences allegedly took place.
In his ruling on the application, Justice Aneke held that pursuant to Section 45 of the Federal High Court Act, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court has the overriding powers to transfer any matter from one judge to another, within the jurisdiction of the court.
The judge also held that the charge was vague and defective as it did not specifically mention where the offences were allegedly committed. He consequently struck out the charge against all 3 defendants.
The defendants were first arraigned on January 16, 2018, before Justice Muslim Hassan on a 24-count charge to which they pleaded not guilty.
They were granted bail and trial began before Justice Hassan with witnesses testifying, but midway into the case, the defendants alleged bias against the judge and the case was then transferred to Justice Aneke.
One of the counts reads, “That you, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke (still at large), Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, Senator Ayo Ademola Adeseun and Chief Olanrewaju Otiti, on or about the 26th day of March, 2015, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to directly take possession of a N650,000,000, which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) and 4 of the same Act.”