Obasanjo's Ex-Aide in Court over N740m Bribe

THISDAY Newspaper- Tobi Soniyi

A former Special Assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr. Adeyanju Bodunde, yesterday pleaded not guilty to the allegation of money laundering offences in connection with the $180 million Halliburton bribery scandal.

He was charged with receiving N740 million in violation of the Money Laundering Act.

Bodunde, who was arraigned alone on a six-count charge, was also granted bail on liberal terms by Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja.

Justice Bello granted him bail in the sum of N1 million and a surety in like sum. The surety must be resident in Abuja and must depose to an affidavit of means.

The case was then adjourned to December 16, 2010 for trial.
Before the charges were read to Bodunde, the prosecutor, Chief Godwin Obla, formally withdrew the earlier charges filed against him, Julius Berger Plc and officials of the construction firm.

Obla then substituted the charges with the new one wherein only Bodunde was charged.

Immediately the charges were read to him, his lawyer, Mr. Akinyemi Aremu, asked the court to grant him bail.

He told the judge that the offences with which he was charged carried a fine of N250,000 or two years imprisonment on conviction and were ordinarily bailable.

Aremu further told the court that Adeyanju had been on police bail and that he voluntarily surrendered himself to law enforcement agents whenever he was asked to report.

Above all, Aremu cited section 35 of the 1999 Constitution which stated that an accused was presumed innocent until his guilt was proved. He therefore urged the court to grant him bail in most liberal terms.

The prosecutor, Obla did not oppose the bail but said that he left it to the discretion of the judge. In admitting Bodunde to bail, Justice Bello said: "When a prosecutor leaves the issue of bail to the judge's discretion, he is otherwise saying that he is not opposing the bail.

"Besides, I have looked at the punishment for the offences. I hereby admit the accused person to bail."

The judge ordered that Bodunde should be taken to the prisons custody if he failed to fulfil the bail condition today but added that he should be allowed to go home once he fulfilled the conditions.

He then adjourned the case to December 16.


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