Ahmed Idris, the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation, has approached the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for a plea bargain.
This was revealed by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), on Wednesday at the resumed hearing before an Abuja High Court in Maitama.
Mr. Idris is being prosecuted alongside 3 others on a 14-count bordering on alleged stealing and criminal breach of trust to the tune of N109.4 billion.
What happened in court
Mr. Rotimi had informed the court that the former AGF with the other defendants had sent someone to EFCC’s office requesting a plea bargain arrangement.
He said, “My lord, the defendants sent a third party to me that they wanted a plea bargain meeting and that they wanted to meet me.
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“But my reply to them was that I could not meet them in the absence of their lawyers. By the nature of our calling, we must be open and transparent.
“Since section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act encourages settlement and plea bargaining, I told them to come with their lawyers and that I would also invite the investigators to come for the meeting.”
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Mr Rotimi said the meeting was slated for Monday, but a lawyer representing the AGF came to his office saying they were excluded from the arrangement.
“One of the lawyers in the team of the 1st defendant, Mr. Kanayo Okafor, came to my office at the EFCC and protested that they were not carried along and that his client would not come for the meeting.
“I later spoke with the senior counsel, Uche, SAN, for more than 30 minutes over the matter and he protested that we did not invite them. It was at that point that I decided to call the meeting off, even though the senior lawyer eventually pleaded that it should go on.
“I called it off because in the first place, the meeting was at their instance. So, none of the defendants entered the EFCC premises or came for the meeting.”
Mr. Idris was arrested by the EFCC on May 16, 2022, over alleged diversion of funds and money laundering activities to the tune of N80 billion.
- EFCC said he was arrested after he failed to honour invitations by the commission to respond to issues connected to the alleged fraudulent acts.
- He was subsequently suspended from office by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.
- EFCC accused Idris of diverting those funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates, adding that they were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja.
- He was later released by the EFCC on administrative bail with his passport in the possession of the EFCC.
- On July 22, Mr Idris was arraigned alongside three others on a 14-count charge bordering on alleged stealing and criminal breach of trust to the tune of N109.4 billion.
- His lawyer, Chris Uche, SAN, prayed court to permit his client to continue enjoying the administrative bail he was granted by the EFCC. He submitted that the offence his client was charged with is bailable and not a capital offence.
- However, Mr Rotimi, in response, argued that the administration bail ended when the defendants were charged to court.
- Justice Adeyemi Ajayi then ordered his remand and that of the other defendants at the Kuje facility and adjourned the proceedings for July 27 for a hearing of the bail applications.
- At the next adjoined date, the judge granted them bail and adopted all the terms and conditions of the administrative bail earlier granted by the EFCC.
What you should know
- A Plea bargain is an arrangement between the prosecutor and the defendant whereby the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence or an agreement to drop other charges.
- The other defendants in the suit include Olusegun Akindele, Mohammed Usman and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited.