Ex-AGF Ahmed Idris seeks deal with EFCC in N109bn fraud case
Ahmed Idris, the suspended accountant-general of the federation facing prosecution for stealing N109billion is seeking a plea bargain in the suit.
By pleading guilty to some or all of the charges preferred against them, Idris and his co-defendants will likely get light sentences. The others being prosecuted along with Idris are Godfrey Olusegun Akindele, Mohammed Kudu Usman, and a firm — Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited.
Rotimi Jacobs, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), at the resumed hearing of the case Wednesday, informed the judge of Idris’ request.
Jacobs stated that the defendants, through a third party, sought a meeting with him on their readiness to make a plea bargain.
“But my reply to them was that I could not meet them in the absence of their lawyers.
“Since section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act encourages settlement and plea bargaining, I told them to come with their lawyers and that I would also invite the investigators to come for the meeting.”
Jacob said the meeting however did not hold, because a lawyer from the chambers of Chris Uche, counsel to Idris, protested their exclusion from the arrangement.
“One of the lawyers in the team of the first defendant, Mr. Kanayo Okafor, came to my office at the EFCC and protested that they were not carried along and that his client would not come for the meeting,” Jacobs said
“I later spoke with the senior counsel, chief Uche, SAN, for more than 30 minutes over the matter and he protested that we did not invite them
“It was at that point that I decided to call the meeting off, even though the senior lawyer eventually pleaded that it should go on.
“I called it off because, in the first place, the meeting was at their instance. So, none of the defendants entered the EFCC premises or came for the meeting.”
In his response, Goddy Uche, who represented Idris, countered Jacob’s claim.
He said the EFCC negotiators asked Idris to go to the office of EFCC chairman, which was unacceptable to them.
“My lord, I could not interview my client on Monday as slated because he was at the EFCC [office],” he said.
“Surprisingly, he was at the EFCC [office] but his lawyers were not carried along. We had thought that one of the prerequisites for charging a matter in court is that the prosecution has concluded its investigations.
“We find it contemptuous that a matter already before the court could be tried in the office of the EFCC chairman. That is not good practice. We were deprived of the opportunity to meet our client to be able to properly prepare for his defence.”
The judge, Adeyemi Ajayi, adjourned further proceedings on the matter till October 4.