Mohammed Adoke, Nigeria’sÂ Attorney General and Minister of Justice has stopped the trial of Minister of State for Health Alhaji Suleiman Bello for corruption by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). The trialÂ was scheduled to begin at Federal High Court, Yola, Adamawa State today, PM NEWS can reveal.
The anti graft agency had dragged Suleiman to court over charges that he received N11.2 million(80,000 US dollars) from Governor Murtala Nyako as â€˜hardship allowanceâ€ when he was the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa State.Â ICPC had accused Bello of conferring corrupt advantage upon himself by unlawfully soliciting for the fund from Governor Nyako.
The anti graft agency said the Ministerâ€™s behavior isÂ contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000. PM NEWS learnt that the Minister was informed last Thursday that he will be arraigned in court on eight count charges based on the accusation today.
In a statement yesterday, Folu Olamiti, ResidentÂ Resident Media Consultant, ICPC had insisted that the trial will go on: “The Minister of State for Health Hon Sulaiman Bello and two former top government Officials of Adamawa State government will be arraigned on Monday (today) by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over their alleged involvement in a N268million bribe scamâ€.
He added that a former Secretary to Adamawa State Government, Mr. John Eddie Mannassa and Former Commissioner for Finance in the State, Mr. Emmanuel Vahyala will also be arraigned by the ICPC on corruption charges at the Court.Â The three accused, according to him, are however to be arraigned separately.
However, while the two other accused persons were arraigned and granted bail and the case against them adjourned till 1st of March, PM NEWS leant that the Minister was not in court as a result of the letter from the AGF office in which the ICPC was asked to hand off the matter.
The letter,Â a copy of which PM NEWS obtained from the office of the Minister was delivered to the office of the Chairman of ICPC at 6.20 pm last Friday.
In the letter signed by one Akin Akintewe, Assistant Director, Department of Public Prosecution, for Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice, with the title: Re: FRN VS SULEIMAN BELLO, Adokie asked the anti corruption agency to hand off the trial of the Minister and forward the case file to his office.
â€œI am directed to draw your attention to the above case which was instituted by your office and slated for hearing on the 31st January, 2011 at Federal High Court, Yolaâ€, the Ministry of Justice wrote on behalf of the AGF in the letter addressed to the Acting Chairman of ICPC.
â€œ I am further directed to request that the original case file be forwarded to the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice immediately, to enable the office take over the prosecution of the case in exercise of the power of the HAGF under S,174(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeriaâ€, he added in the letter.
No reason was however given in the letter for the demand that ICPC should hand off the case, even though the anti graft agency has successfully prosecuted cases on its own in the past.
It will be recalled that Mike Aondoakaa, the former Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federal had provoked outrage locally and internationally with his attempts to also take over cases being prosecuted by the anti-graft agencies.
Many believe that Adokie is also set to put the anti-graft war in danger with his current moves, similar to the several controversial moves made by his predecessor, Mike Aondoaka.