A former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, is stranded in the United Arab Emirates where he tested positive for the COVID – 19, his lawyer, Kanu Agabi (SAN), has claimed.
Agabi, lead counsel to Adoke in the alleged money laundering charges filed against him and a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, conveyed his client's predicament to Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday.
Adoke was granted permission to travel abroad for a medical examination on December 11, 2020, following a plea to that effect.
Justice Ekwo, who ordered the release of Adoke's passport to him, said he should travel between December 15 and return on January 10, 2021, a day before the trial's scheduled resumption.
But at the resumed proceedings, Adoke was not in court, prompting Agabi, a former AGF and Minister of Justice to apologise.
Agabi told Justice Ekwo that his client tested positive for COVID-19 at the point of his return to Nigeria, and was subsequently held back by the authorities of UAE in Dubai.
The lawyer also told the court that Adoke later tested negative for the coronavirus after his treatment but was unable to return to the country as ordered by the court due to flight challenges.
He said, "My Lord, let me apologise to you that the first defendant in this matter, Mohammed Bello Adoke, is not in court today due to circumstances beyond his control. I thank this court for permitting him to travel abroad for medical examination.
"Before he left this country, he tested negative. But unfortunately, while in the UAE, he tested positive at the point of his return to Nigeria. However, he is now negative after the treatment. But he was unable to get a flight to the country. Happily, he will return on January 12, 2021."
Agabi informed the court that an application dated January 4 and filed the same day, seeking an extension of time to avail the 1st defendant of the opportunity to take care of himself, had already been brought before the Court, Punch reports.
He then prayed the court to extend the time within which Adoke would appear in court for continuation of trial.
However, the ex-AGF assured the court that the former Minister would make himself available for his trial in the next adjourned date.
Emmanuel Ikechi, counsel to the 2nd defendant (Aliyu Abubakar), who held brief for Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), did not oppose the application.
The prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga, did not also oppose the adjournment plea on the ground that Adoke had been regular in court and the interest of justice.
Justice Ekwo subsequently adjourned the matter till between March 1 to 4 for the continuation of trial.