A former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (retd.), and 10 others being tried for an alleged fraud of N22.8bn have said they are still in plea bargain talks with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
One of the defence counsel, Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN), said this on Tuesday at the resumed proceedings in the case before Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Amosu is being tried alongside two other officers of the Air Force – Air Vice Marshal Jacob
Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Olugbenga.
The trio are standing trial alongside eight companies, namely: Delfina Oil and Gas Limited, Mcallan Oil and Gas Limited, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Limited, Trapezites BDC, and Fonds and Pricey Limited.
Among other things, the EFCC accused them of conspiring among themselves on March 5, 2014 to convert N21.5bn belonging to the Nigerian Air Force to their personal use.
The alleged act, according to the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, is a violation of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
But upon their arraignment on June 26, 2016 the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, following which Justice Idris admitted Amosu, Adigun and Olugbenga to a bail of N500m each with two sureties in like sum.
But on July 8, 2016, the defence counsel, comprising Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), Quakers, Mr. Kemi Balogun (SAN) and Mr. A . Etuokwu, informed the court of their clients’ intention to enter plea bargain.
They sought an adjournment to perfect their bail condition and to smoothen their talks with the EFCC.
At the resumed proceedings on Tuesday, the EFCC lawyer, Oyedepo, told the court that he was ready to open his case against the defendants and had already brought two witnesses to court for trial to commence.
Oyedepo said the EFCC had discharged its obligation by serving the proof of evidence on the defendants.
But responding, Ayorinde told the court that the matter was only adjourned till Tuesday for mention and that the case could not be heard.
He said the record of the court could bear him witness.
In his own submission, Quakers aligned himself with Ayorinde, adding that the defendants were still in plea bargain talks with the EFCC.
In a short ruling, Justice Idris said he found from the court’s record that the matter was adjourned for mention and not for trial.
He consequently granted the prayer of the defence counsel for an adjournment.
He adjourned till October 20, 21 and 24, 2016 for trial.
Amosu and others were arraigned by the EFCC on 26 counts before Justice Idris.
The charges bordered on conspiracy, stealing and money laundering.
In another count, the defendants were accused of indirectly converting a sum of N3.6bn belonging to the Nigerian Airforce to their own.
In another instance, the EFCC alleged that Amosun and the others stole N323,319,283.81 from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force between the March 21, 2014 and March 12, 2015 to purchase for themselves a property situated at No.1, River Street, Wuse II Abuja.Punch