- Category: Law, Crime & Judiciary
- Published on Tuesday, 01 February 2011 09:48
- Written by The Nation
- Hits: 1659
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke (SAN) has demanded the case file of Minister of State for Health Sulaiman Bello, who is accused of N11.2million fraud.
Adoke’s action has proved insinuations that the Federal Government may drop the case.
The case was being handled by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) before Adoke called for the file in a January 28 letter.
It was learnt that some forces in the Presidency are pushing for soft-landing for Bello by claiming that the allegations were political.
Bello, who was served notice of his trial last Thursday, was yesterday arraigned on an eight-count charge for alleged corrupt enrichment of about N11.2million.
As the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Adamawa State, he was alleged to have conferred corrupt advantage upon himself when he unlawfully solicited from the Governor of Adamawa State about N11,245,000 as “hardship allowance.”
Adoke’s letter to the acting ICPC Chairman, Dr Uriah Angule, was signed by the Assistant Director, Department of Public Prosecution, Akin Akintewe.
“I am further directed to request that the original case file be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice immediately to enable this office take over the prosecution of the case in exercise of the powers of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation under Section 174(1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.”
But a top shot in ICPC, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “This is the first direct interference we are experiencing from any AGF. It is unfortunate that we have done our part to ensure equal justice for the high and the lowly-placed individuals.
“We got the letter late on Friday, obviously to delay the arraignment of the suspect in court, but our legal team had left for Yola.
“Even in Yola on Monday, the Minister failed to turn up for the trial. Instead a counsel from the Office of the Attorney-General appeared before the Federal High Court to claim that the Attorney-General is ready to take over the case. Our prosecutor, Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), though did not oppose the Attorney-General’s application, was surprised.
“The take-over process has been speedy and suspicious on a case that we have spent considerable time to investigate.
“I think the ideal thing would have been to grant ICPC a fiat to prosecute the Minister instead of outright take-over of the case.
It was learnt that Bello’s fate has caused a split in the Presidency with some powerful forces suggesting that he ought not to resign.
A highly-placed source, who spoke in confidence, said: “While some officials in government insisted that the Minister must resign to face trial, others attributed the case to political victimisation and he should be allowed to remain in office to face the charges.
“Throughout last week, the Minister was in his office to perform his official duties. He is unruffled because he is aware that he never collected bribe.
“I think the strength of his argument is making some forces to push for his retention in the cabinet.”