Abacha loot: FG files fresh charges against Mohammed Abacha over stolen N446.3bn

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THE Federal Government, on Thursday filed  new charges against the son of the late General Sani Abacha, Mohammed, accusing him of unlawfully receiving about N446.3billion allegedly stolen from government’s coffers between 1995 and 1998.

 

Mohammed was, in the charge of nine counts, accused of “dishonestly receiving stolen property” and “voluntarily assisted in concealing the money.” The charge replaced the earlier one of 121 counts, in which Mohammed was charged with Atiku Bagudu. The government has now excluded Bagudu from the fresh charge, leaving only Mohammed.

 

According to the new charge marked CR.21-24/2008, the stolen money allegedly received by Mohammed, and which he was accused of concealing included 141,100,000 pound sterling and $384,353,000  made up of cash and travellers cheques.

 

The charge, dated February 24, was filed by a private prosecutor, Daniel Enwelum, who is prosecuting the case on behalf of the Federal Government and upon a fiat dated February 18, issued to him by the Attorney- General of the Federation (AGF).

 

Mohammed’s absence in court stalled his planned arraignment on the new charge on Thursday before Justice Mamman Kolo of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

 

Enwelum told the court that even when Mohammed had been served with the charge, with evidence to that effect contained in a sworn affidavit by the court’s bailiff, the accused person had refused to attend court to for him to be arraigned.

 

He said the new charge which now excluded Bagudu, who was charged with Mohammed, was filed pursuant to Section 181 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) as an amendment to  the earlier charge.

 

Enwelum urged the court to accept the fresh charge and deemed the receipt of the charge by the defence lawyer, on behalf of the accused person, as proper service. He said the lawyer, Abdulllahi Haruna, had promised to receive the charge for his client.

 

Haruna said Mohammed was absent from court because he was not aware of the new charge. He urged the court to adjourn the case to a further date to enable his client appear in court.

 

Lawyer to Bagudu, Rickey Tarfa, urged the court to grant an order discharging his client from charge in view of the prosecution’s decision to exclude him from the new charge.

 

Enwelum, in reaction to Tarfa’s application, argued that it was unnecessary for the court to make a specific order discharging Bagudu from the charge since the government had already excluded him from the amended charge.

 

Ruling, Justice Kolo allowed the amended charge. He also granted an order discharging Bagudu from the charge and adjourned to April 29 for Mohammed’s arraignment.

 

In count one, Mohammed was alleged to have between August and December 1995, in Abuja, dishonestly receiving $36,480,000 made up of cash and travellers cheques property of the Federal Government, believed to have been stolen.

 

Count two alleged that Mohammed, between August and December 1995, in  Abuja, voluntarily assisted in concealing $57,960,000 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government. Count three alleged that he, between October and December 1996, in Abuja, dishonestly received $26,913,500 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government.

 

The prosecution alleged in count four that Mohammed, within the same time, voluntarily assisted in concealing $26,913,500 allegedly stolen from the Federal Government. Count five alleged that he, sometime in June 1997, in Abuja dishonestly received $10,000,000 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government.

 

He was, in count six, said to have, between February and December 1997 dishonestly received $87,000,000 and 41,143,000 pounds sterling believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government. Count seven accused him of voluntarily assisting in concealing the amounts mentioned in count six.

 

In count eight, Mohammed was accused of dishonestly receiving, between January and August 1998  $167,000,000 and 99,957,000 pounds sterling, believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government. Count nine accused him of voluntarily assisting in concealing the amount mention in count eight.

 

The alleged offences are said to be punishable under sections 317 and 319 of the Penal Code.

 

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