Law News
Court rejects American’s application for variation of bail conditions

Justice Hakeem Oshodi of an Ikeja High Court Monday rejected an application brought before the court by an American, Marco Ramirez, alleged to have defrauded three Nigerians seeking US green card of $565,000.

He said the application filed by Ramirez through his counsel, Ademola Adefolaju, was incompetent.

At resumed proceedings yesterday, the vacation judge, Justice Oshodi declined to hear Ramirez’s application for variation of bail conditions as he was absent in court.

His counsel, Adefolaju told the court that Ramirez is in Kirikiri Prison custody and that that is why he could not appear in court.

“My Lord, my client is not here. He is on remand in prison, we will like my Lord to vary the bail conditions, the defendant has been unable to get an executive director of a company as a surety,” Adefolaju said.

Responding, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr M.F Owede, opposed the application for variation of the bail conditions.

Owede told the court that Ramirez was an international fugitive and that varying his bail condition would not be in the interest of justice.

He urged the court to uphold the bail conditions granted him by Justice Josephine Oyefeso on July 10.

“The defendant is a fugitive in the U.S.A., and he is already flagged by the interpol, despite this he was still granted bail on liberal terms,”Owede said

Ruling on the application, Justice Oshodi, said that the application cannot be heard because Ramirez was not present in court.

He held that the application was incompetent because there was nothing before the court to prove Ramirez’s alleged ill health.

Adefolaju had on Friday brought an application before  a vacation Judge,  Justice Ganiyu Safari that his client’s health condition had deteriorated in Kirikiri Prison since his remand in July.

He prayed the court for an order to allow the defendant to bring one surety that is in a directorate cadre in the Lagos State civil service as a substitute for a director in a reputable company.

Adefolaju said Ramirez was dying in prison and the failure “to expeditiously determine the motion is dangerous as his health is deteriorating in prison custody.”

However, Justice Safari held that since the EFCC was not aware of the proceedings it was better for the matter to be adjourned.

He ordered that a hearing notice be issued to the commission informing it of Ramirez’s application and adjourned the hearing of the application till today before Justice Oshodi who is resuming today as the next vacation judge.

The EFCC had charged Ramirez with a 16-count charge bordering on obtaining under false pretences.

According to the anti-graft agency, Ramirez, who is the Managing Director of three companies, USA Now Plc., Eagleford Instalodge Group and USA Now Capital Group, allegedly committed the offences between February 2013 and August 2013.

EFCC alleged that Ramirez fraudulently received $545,000 from Godson Echejue to invest in his company, Eagleford Instalodge Group, in order to procure an American green card (residence permit) for him.

Healso allegedly received $10,000 from Abubakar Umar through a non-existent investment programme in the U.S., which was billed to make Mr. Umar eligible to obtain an American passport.

The EFCC also accused Mr. Ramirez of illegally receiving $10,000 from one Olukayode Sodimu under the pretext that the funds were facilitation fees with the American Immigration Services for an American green card.

Ramirez had pleaded not guilty to the 16 count charge offence.

Justice Josephine Oyesfeso had on July 10, granted Ramirez bail in the sum of $250,000 bail or its naira equivalent with two sureties in like sum.

Oyefeso had ordered that one of the sureties should be resident in Lagos, be a director of a reputable company and have landed property in Lagos State.

Adebisi Onanuga and Chinyere Eke

The Nation

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