21st November, 2011
Trial of former aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo who was implicated in the 180 million USD Halliburton bribery scandal resumed before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The former aide, Mr. Bodunde Adeyanju, was earlier charged alongside construction giant, Messers Julius Berger Construction Company and some of its staff as accused persons but the company and members of its staff were later withdrawn following a plea bargain embraced by the Construction giant.
The deal saw the construction company agreeing to make an ex- gratia payment to the Federal Government. The agreement which Julius Berger entered into with the Federal Government was on the basis of â€œno admission of liabilityâ€ and led to the withdrawal of the charges against the company and its staff implicated in the bribery scandal.
At today’s proceedings, the former Presidential aide challenged the jurisdiction of the court to try him and brought an application to quash the charges against him on the ground that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Expectations had been high among Nigerians that the Federal Government will rise to the occasion and bring all those implicated in the bribery scam to justice but years after other foreign participants in the scam had been tried and sentenced in their home country, none of the Nigerian beneficiaries of the bribe money had been brought to book.
Mr. Bodunde, who is being tried on an amended 6 counts charge was alleged to have accepted cash payment amounting to about 5 million US Dollars from Mr. George Mark and Mr. Hans George Christ who were central to the sharing of the bribery bounty.
He was also alleged to have receieved from Mr. George Mark, the sum of One
million US Dollars on three different occasions and 140 million Naira at
another instance. He also allegedly received the sum of one million
US Dollars from Mr. Hans George Christ in two tranches of 500,000 US Dollars
The former Presidential Aide pleaded not guilty to the 6 counts charge before his latest attempt to botch his trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which is prosecuting the former aide, protested against his application and argued that the Federal High Court has the jurisdiction to entertain and determine the matter.
Justice Adamu Bello, the presiding judge subsequently adjourned the mater to6th February, 2012 to rule on Mr. Bodunde’s application.
By Nnamdi Felix/Abuja