|Nigerian Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello: NAN|
The federal government yesterday arraigned Bodunde Adeyanju, a former aide of ex-President, Olusegun Obasanjo, before a Federal High Court in Abuja for his alleged involvement in the $180 million Halliburton bribery scam, and he was granted bail.
Arraigning the accused person, counsel to the federal government, Godwin Obla, in an amended charge, said that the accused sometime between 2002 and 2003 accepted a cash payment of N140 million from one George Mark.
He told the court that Bodunde’s alleged illegal collection of the monies ran contrary to Section 1 and 15 (d) of the Money Laundering Act, 2004 and punishable under Section 15(2)(b) of the same Act.
Adding that the accused also within the jurisdiction of the court between 2002 and 2003 accepted another cash payment of the sum of $500, 000 from one Hans George Christ. Specifically, he said that the accused further violated Section 1 and 15 of the Money Laundering Act, 2004 and punishable under Sections 15(2) (b) of the Act.
When the charge was read to the accused person, he pleaded not guilty to the charges. “Your Lordship, I do not have any complexities or collected any monies from anybody as alleged in that charge; I am not guilty,” he said.
And his lawyer, Mr Akinyemi Aremu, in an oral application, asked the court to grant him bail, saying that the accused person is a first offender and will not jump bail if granted. He said the alleged offence is a bail-able one and if convicted, the accused is liable to two years imprisonment or a fine of N250,000, or both. The prosecutor, Mr Obla, said he would leave the issue of bail to the discretion of the court.
The presiding judge, Adamu Bello, while ruling on the bail, said, “To me, when a prosecutor says he leaves the issue of bail to the discretion of the court, is a modest way of saying he has no objection.” Subsequently, he granted the accused bail in the sum of N1 million, and one surety in like sum. The surety must be a responsible citizen of Nigeria who resides within the jurisdiction of the court, and must sign an affidavit of means. However, he said the accused person should be remanded in prison custody if he fails to meet the bail conditions. He adjourned the matter to December 16 for trial.
The Halliburton case has been beset by setbacks. When the matter was first mentioned in August, a Federal High Court judge, David Okorowo, disqualified himself from hearing the $180 million Halliburton bribery scandal, after the federal government failed to produce the accused persons in court.
Also, the federal government recently said it withdrew the charges it filed against Julius Berger Nigeria Limited. The construction giant was said to be involved in the $180m Halliburton scam.
But it said it would file a civil action against Halliburton Corporation in the United States to seek compensation and restitution within the next 14 days.
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