By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja
A former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke has tested positive for coronavirus in the United Arab Emirate (UAE), where he had gone for a medical check-up.
Adoke is currently stranded in the UAE and is unable to return to Nigeria.
His lawyer, Kanu Agabi (SAN) disclosed this on Monday at the resumption of proceedings in the money laundering case involving Adoke and a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar before a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The court had, on December 11 last year, granted Adoke permission to travel abroad on medical grounds, despite opposition from the prosecuting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Prosecuting lawyer, Bala Sanga had urged the court to reject Adoke’s request for permission to travel abroad, arguing that it took the assistance of security agencies, particularly the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) to apprehend and return the ex-AGF to Nigeria to face trial.
But, Justice Inyang Ekwo, while granting Adoke’s application for leave to travel abroad, ordered him to return before January 11, 2021.
At the mention of the case on Monday, Adoke was absent in court, prompting Justice Ekwo to enquire about his whereabouts.
Agabi, also a former AGF and Minister of Justice, told the court that his client tested positive for the disease at the point of his return to Nigeria, and was subsequently held back by the UAE authorities.
He added that, although Adoke later tested negative for COVID-19 after his treatment, he was unable to get a flight to return to Nigeria within the time ordered by the court.
Agabi 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.
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“I thank this court for granting him permission 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 tomorrow, January 12, 2021,” Agabi said.
He added that a fresh application, seeking for extension of time for Adoke to take care of himself has already been filed before the court.
Agabi urged the court to extend the time within which Adoke should return to court for the resumption of the trial.
He assured that Adoke would endeavour to attend court at the next adjourned date.
Lawyer to Abubakar, E. C. Ikechi and Sanga did not object to Agabi’s fresh application, following which Justice Ekwo adjourned till March 1 for the continuation of trial.