By Tola Akinmutimi
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday fixed the re-arraignment of a former minister of state for the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide and two others facing a N650 million fraud charge in a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for June 11 this year.
The court’s order was sequel to a request by the counsel to the former minister, Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), to the court that he and the lead prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, were scheduled to appear before another trial court.
Akinjide, who was first arraigned on Jan. 16, 2018, before Justice Sule Hassan alongside Ayo Adeseun and Olarenwaju Otiti, on an amended 24-count charge bordering on fraud and money laundering, pleaded not guilty to the charge. They were subsequently granted bail.
The case was later transferred to Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court in Lagos.
When the case came up on Friday before Aneke, the defendants mounted the dock. While Messrs Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), O.F. Adeosun and Akinola Oladeji appeared for the first, second and third defendants, respectively, Barrister U. Buhari, announced appearance for the prosecution.
In his submission, Ayorinde prayed the court to give another date for the re-arraignment since he and the lead prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, would appear in another trial before another judge. He told the court that Oyedepo would want to be present during the arraignment.
Since his application was not opposed by other counsels, the court consequently adjourned the case until June 11, for the re-arraignment of Akinjide and the two other defendants, who are chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The EFCC had accused the defendants of receiving money from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the money formed part of a total sum of $115 million allegedly disbursed by the former minister to influence the outcome of the 2015 Presidential election.