The suspended accountant-general of the federation, Ahmed Idris has sought a plea bargain in the 109-billion-naira criminal case brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, who is prosecuting him alongside three other defendants, told the court during proceedings yesterday that Idris and his co-defendant had, through a third party, requested to meet him to negotiate the plea bargain arrangement.
What is a Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and a defendant who pleads guilty to a lesser charge or to one of the multiple charges in exchange for a more lenient sentence or dismissal of the other charges. In other words, it is an agreement in a criminal trial in which a prosecutor and a defendant arrange to settle the case against the defendant on terms accepted by the prosecutor, which terms are premised in the interest of justice, public interest, and public policy.
Why is he asking the Plea Bargain?
Recall that the embattled former account-general of the federation was arrested in Kano in May for failing to honour the invitation by the EFCC, to answer questions on allegations of his involvement in an 80-billion-naira fraud, and then later suspended indefinitely “without pay” by the finance minister, Zainab Ahmed.
However, on July 22, Ahmed Idris was arraigned on a 14-count-charge alongside Godfrey Olusegun Akindele, Mohammed Kudu Usman, and a firm_Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange limited, but was granted bail in liberal terms.
The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, told the presiding Judge that the defendant had sent a third party to him that they wanted a plea bargain meeting and that they wanted to meet with him, but he replied that he couldn’t meet them in the absence of their lawyers.
“Since section 270 of the Administration of the 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,” Jacobs said.
Was the Plea Bargain granted?
The prosecuting counsel however said the plea bargain meeting, which ought to have been held last Monday, was called off after a lawyer from the chambers of Chris Uche, counsel to Ahmed Idris, came to his office to protest 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,” Jacob said.
Responding to the development, the representative of the suspended AGF, Goddy Uche insisted that his client and his co-defendant were at the EFCC office for the meeting, but declined to go further with the negotiation after they were asked to go to the office of the EFCC chairman.
The presiding Judge, Adeyemi Ajayi, however, adjourned the proceeding on the matter till October 4.