Home NEWS Embattled AGF Idris Seeks For Plea Bargain Over Alleged N109B Fraud, To...

Embattled AGF Idris Seeks For Plea Bargain Over Alleged N109B Fraud, To Avoid Trial

Ahmed-Idris

The embattled suspended Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris is seeking for a plea bargain to avoid trial over allegation of frittering the sum of N109.4 billion belonging to the Federal Government.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which broke the news yesterday, August 10 before Justice Adeyemi Ajayi of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), said that the suspended AGF’s his co-defendants were also part of the move for a plea bargain with the commission.

The defendants are a Technical Assistant to Idris, Godfrey Olusegun Akindele; a director in the office of the AGF, Mohammed Kudu Usman, and a firm linked with Idris, Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited.

The defendants were arraigned on July 22, on a 14-count charge bordering on money laundering, stealing and criminal breach of trust.

At a resumed trial, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), counsel to the EFCC, told the court that the suspended Accountant General had reached out to the agency through a third party for a meeting to work on ways to achieve a plea bargain arrangement.

Since section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, provides for plea bargain, the prosecution counsel said he agreed to meet with the defendants, but on the condition that their lawyers and EFCC investigators (who handled the case) must be in attendance.

According to Jacobs, the meeting planned for last Tuesday failed to hold because the defendants came without their lawyers.

Jacobs stated that a lawyer from Idris’s legal team, who he identified as Kanayo, later came to the venue of the meeting to complain that the defendants were not carried along.

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“The first defendant sent a third party to me that he wanted a plea bargaining meeting and he wanted to meet me.

“That was on Tuesday morning, and I replied that I cannot meet the defendants in the absence of their counsel.

“I added that by the nature of our calling, we must be open and transparent. Section 270 of ACJA allows plea bargain.

I told them to come with their lawyer and let us meet at the EFCC office and that I will also invite the investigators to be at the meeting.

“Kanayo, one of the counsel in the legal team of the first defendant, came to meet me at the EFCC office in Wuse 2, and protested that they were not carried along and that his clients would not come for the meeting.

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“I spoke with Chief Chris Uche (SAN), head of the first defendant’s legal team, for about 30 minutes to let him know that we did not invite them and that the planned meeting was at their instance.

“None of the defendants entered EFCC’s office. So, they did not attend any meeting at the EFCC office,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs was responding to complaints by lawyers to the defendants, that the EFCC did not invite their clients the previous day and prevented them from meeting with the defendants, who they further claimed were at the office of the EFCC for the better part of the day.

Meanwhile, counsel representing Idris and Gezawa (1st and 4th defendants), Gordy Uche (SAN), at the commencement of proceedings, objected to an application by Jacobs to tender some statements made by the first defendant.

Uche argued that Jacobs should not be allowed to tender the statements because he (Uche) was yet to interview his client in relation to the documents.

“I was to interview the first defendant on Tuesday, but I learnt he was in the office of the EFCC. We were, as counsel, not carried along”, Uche said.

Uche argued that it was disrespectful of the court for the EFCC to invite the defendants without their lawyers’ knowledge when the case had already been charged to court.

He contended that the EFCC was expected to have concluded its investigation before charging the defendants to court.

However, Uche denied that his clients proposed plea bargain to the prosecution as claimed by Jacobs.

He said the standard practice was for the lawyer to a defendant to initiate such arrangement, not for such move to be made behind the lawyer to the defendant.

Uche prayed the court for adjournment to enable him confer with the first defendant.

Lawyers to Akindele and Usman( 2nd and 3rd defendants)- Peter Abalaka and Ibrahim Isiyaku (SAN), who said they shared Uche’s position, also prayed for an adjournment to enable them confer with their clients.

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