BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA—The Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, yesterday, withdrew the money laundering charge preferred against the eldest son of the late military dictator, Mohammed Abacha.
Mohammed was accused of concealing the sum of N446.3 billion allegedly stolen from the national treasury between 1995 and 1998.
He was said to have received the stolen money from his late father, General Sani Abacha, and hid same. On two different occasions, Mohammed failed to appear before the court to enter his plea to the charge.
The accused person, on April 10, told the court that he could not take his plea because he was not duly served with a copy of the charge and proof of evidence against him, a situation that led to the adjournment of the matter.
On April 29 when the case came up for arraignment, Mohammed also failed to appear before the court on the ground of ill-health, though his lawyer begged the court to adjourn the case for two weeks to enable him attend his trial.
At the resumed sitting yesterday, the prosecutor, Mr. D.C Enwelum, told the court that the AGF directed him to withdraw the charge.
“I have been instructed by the Attorney General of the Federation to withdraw the charges as currently filed before this court.
“My Lord, he said there are fresh facts/documents available to him that would necessitate the termination of this proceeding.
“In the circumstance, he instructed me to file a notice of withdrawal without prejudice to future cause of action that may be taken by his office. I humbly apply to withdraw the charges accordingly,” Enwelum added.
He, therefore, urged the court to okay the notice of withdrawal,dated June 17.
Sequel to a ‘no objection’ stance by Mohammed’s lawyer, Mr. Abdullahi Haruna who further prayed the court to discharge his client, Justice Valentine Ashi, struck out the charge.
Specifically, government had alleged that Mohammed “dishonestly received stolen property and voluntarily assisted in concealing money.”
The federal government had maintained that the charge which was withdrawn yesterday, replaced an earlier 121 criminal counts, in which Mohammed was sued alongside his alleged accomplice, Atiku Bagudu.
Besides, the government had in the subsequent charge, excluded Bagudu from trial with an indication that he was among those billed to testify against Mohammed.
According to the withdrawn charge marked CR 21-24/2008, the stolen money allegedly received by Mohammed, included 141,100,000 pound sterling and 384,353,000 US dollars, made up of cash and travellers cheques.
In count one, Mohammed was alleged to have between August and December 1995 at Abuja, dishonestly received $36,480,000.00 made up of cash and travellers cheques property of the Federal Government, believed to have been stolen.
Count two alleged that Mohammed, between August and December 1995 at Abuja, voluntarily assisted in concealing $57,960,000.00 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government.
Moreso, Mohammed was in count three alleged to have between October and December 1996 at Abuja, dishonestly received $26,913,500.00 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government.
The prosecution alleged in count four that Mohammed, within the same time, voluntarily assisted in concealing $26,913,500.00 allegedly stolen from the Federal Government.
In count five, he was alleged to have sometime in June 1997 in Abuja dishonestly received $10,000,000.00 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government. He was, in count six, said to have, between February and December 1997 dishonestly received $87,000,000 and 41,143,000 pound sterling believed to have been stolen from the Federal government.
The federal government also accused him of dishonestly receiving, between January and August 1998, $167,000,000 and 99,957,000 pound sterling.