A former minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, who is being tried alongside two others for N650 million fraud yesterday told the Federal High Court in Lagos that she is ready to explore an out of court settlement on the matter.
Akinjide, who stated this through his lawyer, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), also notified the trial judge, Justice Muslim Hassan that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State had decided to return the money complained about by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ayorinde told the court that since the matter is about the campaign funds of the PDP in Oyo State, the party had decided to refund the money to the federal government.
The former minister was docked before the court alongside a former Senator representing Oyo Central Senatorial District, Ayo Ademola Adeseun and a politician, Chief Olanrewaju Otiti, on a 24-count charge of alleged N650 million frauds.
The accused persons were all accused of conspiring to directly take possession of N650million, which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.
The EFCC said they allegedly received the money from Mrs. Alison-Madueke in the build- up to the 2015 general election.
The money was said to be part of a larger sum of $115 million allegedly doled out by Mrs. Alison-Madueke to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.
However, they all pleaded not guilty to the charge.
At the resumed hearing of the case yesterday, Ayorinde told the court that “the entire money from the charge is on the sum of N650 million. The funds were campaign money of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State in the 2015 general elections.
“The defendants who were PDP chieftains in Oyo State acting on the collective decision of the party decided to refund the money.
“I had a word with the EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, and we think it is wise going forward and at this point not to subject this matter to further adjudication and waste the time of the court.
“We decided that counsels on all sides should meet to look at the way forward on this charge, the money complained of having been refunded by the party through the first defendant.
“My application is that the court should adjourn further hearing pending the outcome of our discussion”, the senior lawyer maintained.
Other defence lawyers, Michael Lana and Akinola Oladeji, expressed support for the plan.
Responding, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, said he is not opposed to an adjournment to allow for discussion between parties.
He said: “I confirmed the discussion with the silk this morning. But I want to say that the matter before the court is not principally about campaign funds.
“I also confirmed that the commission had recovered the sum of N650 million, not from the chieftains and principal members of the PDP, but rather from the first defendant (Akinjide).
“Section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 allows parties to discuss. In view of the fact that the silk has applied for an adjournment to allow for discussion, we would not be objecting to his application.”
After listening to the lawyers, Justice Hassan adjourned further hearing in the matter to February 22.
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