The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday re-arraigned former Federal Capital Territory minister Mrs Jumoke Akinjide at the Federal High Court in Lagos for alleged money laundering.
The commission charged her along with a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader in Oyo State Chief Olarenwaju Otiti and a former Senator representing Oyo Central Senatorial District Ayo Adeseun.
Former Petroleum Resources minister Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, said to be at large, is also named in the charge.
EFCC accused them of conspiring to directly take possession of N650million from Mrs Alison-Madueke ahead of the 2015 general elections without going through a financial institution.
The anti-graft agency said they reasonably ought to have known that the money was part of proceeds of an unlawful act.
One of 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.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty.
The re-arraignment followed the case transfer from Justice Muslim Hassan, before whom they were arraigned last January 16, to Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, at the instance of the defence.
The prosecution had prayed the court to reverse the transfer, which was rejected.
rial had already begun before Justice Hassan, with the case at a trial-within-trial stage to determine the admissibility of a document, before it was transferred.
Otiti and Adeseun had on February 6 prayed Justice Hassan to recuse himself from the case.
They accused him of bias, claiming that as a former head of EFCC’s legal unit before he was appointed a judge, he would not be fair to them.
Although the judge initially refused to recuse himself, the Chief Judge eventually re-assigned the case to Justice Aneke.
Justice Aneke allowed the defendants to remain on the bail granted them by Justice Hassan.
He ruled: “I am of the view that bail should not be used as punishment. The Constitution presumes the defendants innocent until otherwise is proven.
“Consequently, I order that the defendants should continue on the existing bail earlier granted them by Justice Muslim Sule Hassan.”
Meanwhile, the defendants informed the court of their motion challenging the constitutionality of the charge.
Justice Aneke adjourned until September 30 and October 11 for hearing/trial.