Justice Muslim Hassan of a Federal High Court sitting at Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, was on Tuesday informed that the former Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Minister, Jumoke Akinjide, has made an agreement to return a sum to the tune of N650 million, alleged to have been fraudulently received from the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, during the 2015 elections.
It would be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had accused Akinjide of receiving the said sum from Allison-Madueke
The former FCT Minister through her lawyer, Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), specifically informed Justice Hassan that she is ready to enter a plea bargain agreement with the EFCC to return the money.
But in reacting, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo notified the court that the anti-graft agency had already recovered the money from Akinjide and that she alongside her co-defendants were charged to court for breaching the money laundering act amongst other charge.
The Commission had on January 16, 2018 docked Akinjide and two others for allegedly receiving N650m cash from Alison-Madueke.
According to the charge, the EFCC had insisted that the funds were proceeds of unlawful activities, with an addition that Akinjide and others handled the N650m cash without going through any financial institution, contrary to the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
Dragged to court alongside Akinjide is Senator Ayo Adeseun and Chief Olanrewaju Otiti.
But the trio informed the judge that they were not guilty of the 24-counts charge made against them by the EFCC.
During today’s proceedings on the matter, Ayorinde said, “This matter is principally about the campaign funds of the 2015 elections in Oyo State and the people in the dock now were the principal hands that handled the funds.
“Consequently, the PDP in Oyo State have unanimously taken a decision to refund the total sum N650m.
“In the light of the above, before the trial commences full-blown, we are imploring the court to allow parties to explore possible amicable settlement.”
To confirm the development, Oyedepo said, “I confirm that the learned Senior Advocate had a brief discussion with me and the prosecuting team this morning.
“I will just like to straighten the issue by saying that the matter before the court is not principally about the campaign funds.
“If it is about the PDP (campaign) funds, Your Lordship will not find us before this court.
“The allegation is that the defendants dealt with proceeds of unlawful activities.
“I also confirm that the commission has recovered the sum of N650m, not from the chieftains and principal members of the PDP but from the first defendant (Akinjide).
“Section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act allows parties to discuss.
“So, in view of the fact that the learned Senior Advocate applied for discussion pursuant to Section 270, we will not be objecting to his application for a short adjournment to enable us to discuss settlement in line with the Act.”
Oyedepo thereafter prayed the court to note that the prosecution was ready to open its case as it had a witness in court.
Justice Hassan has adjourned the matter until February 22 to allow the parties discuss in line with Section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which allows parties to explore plea bargain.
In the charge, the EFCC argued that Akinjide and others ought to have reasonably known that the money formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act.
The former FCT Minister was accused of allegedly given a cash sum of N107.4m to Otti and N134.4m to Adeseun out of the N650m on March 26, 2015.