A Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, fixed February 15, 2018, for the arraignment of former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, and nine others.
Other defendants in the matter are former minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Dan Etete; Aliyu Abubakar, ENI SPA, Ralph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujatti Stefeno, Burrafati Sebestiano and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.
Adoke and others are to face criminal trial for conspiring and defrauding the Federal Government of billions of naira in a shady oil bloc deal.
The expected arraignment of the defendants could not hold, yesterday, following their absence in court.
The prosecution counsel, Johnson Ojogbane informed the trial judge, Justice John Tsoho, that the situation remained the same since the last date adjourned date of June 16.
Justice Tsoho adjourned to February 15, 2018 for arraignment.
Yesterday sitting was the third time the arraignment had been stalled due to absence of the defendants in court.
On April 3, 2017, the FG had approached the court with a request for guidance on whether or not to issue an arrest warrant against Adoke.
The prosecution counsel stated that Adoke and some of the defendants outside the shores of Nigeria, making service of writ of summons on them difficult.
Justice Tsoho said if Adoke had already been arraigned before the court and had attempted to evade trial, it would have been proper to issue warrant of arrest.
“Once a person has been arraigned before a court and is attempting to escape, and then it becomes necessary to issue a warrant of arrest,” the judge said.
The matter was later adjourned to June 16, but again, the arraignment could not hold due absence of Adoke in court.
It was then adjourned till October 26, yet the arraignment was stalled.
In the charge filed in March 2017, count one stated that the accused persons conspired contrary to Section 26 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 to defraud the federal government of billions of Naira.
The offence is punishable under Section 12 of the same Act.