Rtd. Chief of Air Staff Adesola Amosu and 10 others, who are under trial for a N22.8bn fraud, say they are still in plea bargain talks with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Defence counsel Norrison Quakers said this on Tuesday before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
At the resumed proceedings on Tuesday, EFCC lawyer Rotimi 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.
Mr. Oyedepo said the EFCC had discharged its obligations by serving the proof of evidence on the defendants.
But responding,Bolaji Ayorinde told the court that the matter was only adjourned till Tuesday for mention, citing court records, and that the case could not be heard.
In his own submission, Mr. Quakers aligned himself with Ayorinde, pointing out that the defendants were still in plea bargain talks with the EFCC.
In a short ruling, Justice Idris said he confirmed from the court’s record that the matter was adjourned only for mention and not for trial.
He consequently granted the prayer of the defence counsel for an adjournment, and adjourned till October 20, 21 and 24, 2016 for trial.
Air Marshal Amosu and three others: Air Vice-Marshal Jacob Nola Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga, were arraigned onJune 29th on a 26-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and money laundering to which they pleaded not guilty.
The defendants were also accused of indirectly converting the sum of N3.6bn, property of the Nigerian Air Force to their own.
Reports have it that some of the trio’s properties have been confiscated by the EFCC and the sum of N2.8bn recovered has been returned.
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, as well as Fonds and Pricey Limited.
They are accused of conspiring among themselves in March 2014 to convert N21.5bn belonging to the Nigerian Air Force into their personal use in contravention of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
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 counsels Bolaji Ayorinde, Quakers, Kemi Balogun and A. Etuokwu, informed the court of their clients’ intention to enter into a plea bargain, and requested an adjournment to work on their bail to smoothen their talks with the EFCC.
In another charge, the EFCC alleged that Amosu and the others stole N323,319,283.81 from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force between the March 2014 and March 2015 to purchase for themselves a property situated at No.1, River Street, Wuse II, Abuja.