Trial of the six persons arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for their role in defrauding the Police Pension Office to the tune of N32.8 Billion naira (Thirty Two billion, Eight Hundred million naira) will commence before Justice Mohammed Talba of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Gudu, Abuja, on May 28, 2012.
The six suspects who were arraigned on a 16 criminal charges bordering on conspiracy and criminal breach of trust were: Esai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, John Yakubu Yusufu, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira. Kigo was the director of the Police Pension Office, before he was made permanent secretary.
At the resumed hearing of the case, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, relying on Section 341 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Act, filed a 17 paragraph affidavit in support of his bail application. He argued that by virtue of the said section, the discretionary powers of the court should be exercised in the accused persons’ favour.
He also said that though the deposition in the counter affidavit to the bail application are obvious facts, he maintained that they are not enough to deny bail, adding that nothing in the counter affidavit suggested that the accused were hostile while in the EFCC custody.
But Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, in a 23 point counter affidavit said that “persons accused of an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term exceeding three years shall not ordinarily be released on bail; nevertheless, the court may upon application release on bail, a person accused as aforesaid if it considers that by reason of the granting bail, the proper investigation of the offence would not be prejudiced; and that no serious risk of the accused escaping from justice would be occasioned; and that no grounds exist for believing that the accused, if released would commit an offence. By virtue of the above quoted plethora of judicial authorities, this Honourable Court has the discretion whether to admit the Applicants to bail or not”
After listening to the arguments by counsel on both sides, the judge said that bail was not to set the accused free but to prepare them to face trial. The judge therefore granted each of the accused persons bail in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in like sum, one of whom must not be less than an officer on grade level 14. The sureties, the judge also said, must live within the jurisdiction of the court. The sureties must however depose to affidavit of means which must be verified by the EFCC. The accused persons are also to deposit their national passports before the court.
Prosecution Counsel, Jacobs, in response to the bail granted the accused persons observed that the issue of bail is at the discretion of the court. “It’s a matter of conscience of the court not the law”.
The judge adjourned the case till Monday May 28 and June 4, 2012 for commencement of trial.
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