Law News
N8bn scam: Court dismisses CBN workers’ bail applications

Justice Ayo Emmanuel of the Federal High Court, Ibadan Division, on Monday ordered that representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria and other bankers involved in the N8bn mutilated currency fraud be remanded in prison custody, after dismissing their applications for bail.

He, however, granted an order for the accelerated hearing of the case.

Those to be remanded in prison are Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Adeola, Toogun Philips, Salami Ibrahim, Odiah Emmanuel, Patient Okoro, Afolabi Johnson, Ilori Sunday, Fatai Yusuf and Tade Akintade. They were docked in three batches during the ruling. Counsel for the accused persons, however, said they would appeal the ruling.

After their arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission two weeks ago, their counsel filed applications for bail and supported the action with sworn affidavits. Lead counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), however, opposed all the applications through counter affidavits he submitted to the court.

While delivering ruling on the applications on Monday, Justice Emmanuel acknowledged the applications, affidavits and the written addresses of the accused persons as well as the counter affidavits of the prosecution. He, however, said that he was not convinced or persuaded by the filed documents and the submissions of the counsel to the accused persons to admit the suspects on bail.

While stating reasons for dismissing the applications, Justice Emmanuel said he considered a number of factors associated with granting bail, among them, the possibility of the accused persons committing another offence, influencing or interfering with witnesses or the investigation officers, concealing or destroying evidence and their availability to stand trial, if granted bail.

He said he had also considered the evidence available against the suspects, the nature and the gravity of their offences, their criminal antecedents, the possibility of other charges being brought against them, their intentions and ability to present medical report pending the final dismissal of the case.

He added that one or more of these factors would be enough to decide bail applications.

“I have considered the evidence before the court; the offences are mind-boggling and weighty. I have not been persuaded by the submission before me to think otherwise. Evidences before me point to a new wave of economic crime. I must state that the court does not have the power to detain an accused person beyond constitutional limit. The discretion to grant bail resides with the court, but such discretion must also be judiciously applied.

“The alleged crimes have adverse effect on the economy of the nation and the offence carries a maximum of 21 years in prison. It is a capital offence against the economy of this country. It is a common knowledge that the first, second and third accused (Babalola, Adeola and Phillips) are answering other criminal charges in suits before me.

“In view of evidences before me, I have not been persuaded or convinced by the sworn affidavits tendered by the accused persons that if granted bail, they will not interfere with court processes. In concluding, the accused persons have not persuaded me to exercise my discretion to admit them to bail. The bail application is hereby dismissed and I grant the order of accelerated hearing. This court will not tolerate frivolous applications,” he said.

Justice Emmanuel also ruled against the bail application filed by Salami Ibrahim on health ground, saying that a health certificate must be produced after medical examination by prison officials at a federal hospital.

But counsel for Adeola and Phillips, Olalekan Ojo, told journalists that an appeal would be filed on his clients’ behalf, adding that Justice Emanuel’s reasons gave an impression that the accused persons were guilty.

He said, “The ruling certainly was against our expectation. We knew it could go either way but no state governor and bank chief accused of economic crime was denied bail in the past. It is dangerous at this state to go into the substantive issues. There are pronouncements made by the judge that touched on this. This is why we are worried.

“We are filing a motion for a stay because he has already found them guilty by some of the pronouncements. It will be suicidal for the accused persons to submit themselves before trial with the judge’s pronouncement. We want fair hearing.”

The counsel for the EFCC, Adeola Aborisade, also told journalists that the accused persons had the right to appeal the ruling. He, however, said that such an appeal would not stop the case hearing schedule.

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