The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned Jumoke Akinjide, former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and two other chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State.
Akinjide alongside Ayo Adeseun, a former senator, and Olanrewaju Otiti a chieftain of the people democratic party in Oyo, were re-arraigned on Wednesday before Justice Chukwujeku Aneke of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos.
At the resumed proceedings, counsel to EFCC Rotimi Oyedepo informed the court of 24 amended counts charge preferred against the defendants and urged the court to take the fresh plea of the defendants.
Subsequently, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) who is representing Akinjide, orally applied that the court allows his client to continue on the existing bail granted to her by the previous court.
Michael Lana and Oladiji Akinola who appeared for Senator Adeseun and Otiti, respectively made the same prayer to the court.
They urged the court to allow their clients continue of the existing bail terms.
However, Oyedepo opposed the motion, insisting instead that the court impose fresh bail condition that would compel the defendants to appear in court for their trials.
"My Lord the prosecution is worried about how this case has travelled from Ibadan to Lagos and my Lord is the fourth judge that will handle this case at the instant of the defence.
"Our fear is that these defendants are interfering with the quick dispensation of justice in this case and the interest of justice will be better served if defendants file motion for bail, so that we can respond to it and state the reason why this defendant should not be granted bail and we can only place that fact before my Lord by way of affidavit," Oyedepo said.
Justice Aneke, in his short ruling, granted the oral application of the defendants to continue on the existing bail earlier granted to them by the former trial judge.
Aneke said: "I have perused the submissions of respective counsels, I am of the view that bail should not be used to serve as punishment on the defendants whom the constitution presume innocent until otherwise is proofed.
"Consequently I ordered that the defendants should continue on the existing bail earlier granted to them by justice Muslim Sule Hassan."
The defendants also informed the court of their motion challenging the constitutionality of the charge.
Justice Aneke adjourned trial in the case until September 30 and October 11, respectively
Akinjide was first arraigned on January 16, 2018, before Justice Sule Hassan alongside Adeseun and Otiti, on an amended 24-count charge bordering on fraud and money laundering.
They pleaded not guilty and were granted bail.
Trial began before Hassan, with witnesses testifying, but midway, the case was transferred to Aneke.
One of the charges read: “That you, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke (still at large), Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, Senator Ayo Ademola Adeseun and Chief Olanrewaju Otiti, on or about the 26th day of March, 2015, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to directly take possession of a N650,000,000, which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) and 4 of the same Act.”
The EFCC claimed that the defendants received money from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
The money was part of the fund allegedly shared by the PDP stalwarts during the 2015 campaigns.
The money, according to the anti-graft agency, was said to form part of a total sum of 115 million dollars allegedly disbursed by Alison-Madueke to influence the outcome of the 2015 Presidential Election.