The Maiduguri Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, November 8, 2021 re-arraigned a former Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Abdu Bulama before Justice Fadima Murtala Aminu of the Federal High Court sitting in Damaturu, Yobe State, on a seven count charge of criminal conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N450 Million (Four Hundred and Fifty Million Naira).
Bulama was re-arraigned alongside a former Commissioner for Integrated and Rural Development in Yobe State, Hon. Mohammed Kadai, Abba Gana Tata, Muhammad Mamu and Hassan Ibn Jaks.
The ex-minister allegedly received the said sum from Diezani Alison- Madueke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, to influence the outcome of the 2015 Presidential election as the Coordinator of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2015 Re-election Campaign Committee in Yobe State. Kadai was Deputy Coordinator, while the other three defendants were members of the committee.
Count one of the charges reads, “That you, DR. ABDU BULAMA, HON. MOHAMMED KADAI, ABBAs GANA TATA, MUHAMMAD MAMU AND HASSAN IBN JAKS on or about the 27th day of March, 2015 at Damaturu, Yobe State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did agree among yourselves to do illegal act, to wit: conspiracy to commit money laundering and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended”.
The defendants pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges preferred against them by the EFCC.
Upon their pleas, prosecution counsel Mukhtar Ali Ahmed asked the court for a trial date and to remand the defendants in the Correctional Centre pending the determination of the case.
The lead counsel for the defendants, E. A. Adenitan informed the court that applications for bail had been filed and served on the court and the prosecution. He therefore urged the court to admit the defendants to bail pending trial.
While opposing the bail applications of the defendants, Ali Ahmed prayed the court for accelerated hearing, ‘‘pursuant to Section 19 of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004.’’
He however said that, should the court exercises its discretion in favour of the defendants, the bail conditions, ‘‘ should be such that will guarantee their attendance in court regularly to face trial.’’
Justice Aminu after listening to both parties admitted the defendants to bail in the sum of N50million each with two sureties in the sum of N25million each.
The sureties may be private businessmen or professional in any field or profession. The sureties must also submit to the Registrar of the court, his or her Tax Clearance Certificate for the last two years.
All the defendants shall deposit their international passports, official/diplomatic passports or any international documents that they can use to exit the country, with the court.
Justice Aminu adjourned the matter till January, 18, 19 and 20, 2022 for commencement of trial and ordered that the defendants be remanded in Potiskum Correctional Facility pending the fulfillment of their bail conditions.
It will be recalled that the defendants were first arraigned on Friday, May 29, 2018 before Justice Hammada Isa Dashen of the Federal High Court, Damaturu, Yobe State, on a 7-count charge of criminal conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N450 Million.
During the trial before Justice Dashen, the prosecution counsel Mukhtar Ali Ahmed presented six witnesses and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence by the court.
At the close of the prosecution’s case, the defendants opted for a “no case submission” and their prayers were granted by Justice Dashen as they were discharged and acquitted.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC approached the Appellate Court to set aside the decision of the lower Court.
In March 3, 2021, the Appeal Court in its Judgment upheld the argument of the EFCC that the Lower Court erred in law by discharging and acquitting the defendants.
The appellate court ordered that the case be returned to the Federal High Court and assigned to a judge other than Justice Dashen, to be heard de novo.’