Four persons- Justin Itemoagbo, Dayo Aliyu, Ojeifo Sylvanus and Dayang Jacob- have been arraigned before Justice Peter Kekemeke of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Apo Division, Abuja over an alleged N22.9 million fraud.
The accused are standing trial on a 14-count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust, conspiracy to obtain money by false pretence, abuse of office forgery advance fee fraud and impersonation.
They are alleged to have committed the offence between 2012 and 2014.
They, however, pleaded “not guilty” to the charge when it was read to them.
Counsel to the prosecuting Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) T.N. Ndifon, in view of their pleas, urged the court to fix a date for the commencement of their trial and prayed that they be remanded in prison custody, pending the determination of the case.
Defence counsel, Tope Fasanmi, prayed the court to grant the defendants bail, saying: “The defendants have been on administrative bail since March and have always been present whenever the EFCC wanted them.”
Justice Kekemeke, after taking the submissions of the parties, adjourned for further hearing.
The Judge also ordered that they be remanded to Kuje Prison.
Meanwhile, 10 persons arraigned before a High Court of the FCT in Jabi Division on a four-count criminal charge of armed robbery, theft and illegal possession of fire arms have been remanded in Keffi Prison in Nasarawa State, pending ruling on bail applications by counsel to the accused in the matter.
The case is between Commissioner of Police vs. Livinus Mbaga and nine others brought before Justice Yusuf Halilu.
When the charges were read to the accused, they all pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.
They were alleged to have conspired amongst themselves and robbed an aluminum company in Jabi and carted away with materials worth about N25 million, thereby committing an offence punishable under Sections one, two, three and six of the Robbery and Fire Arms (Special Provisions Act), Laws of the Federation, 2004.
At a previous sitting of the court on November 15, Justice Halilu had taken submissions of the parties and adjourned to enable a consolidated process of bail applications by defendants to the next sitting of the court.
However, the Judge further adjourned ruling on the bail applications till January next year at the resumed sitting when prosecution counsel, representing the Commissioner of Police, Blessing Ezeala, a Superintendent of Police (SP) in the Legal Department of the FCT Police Command, told the court that the matter had been adjourned for opening of trial and the consolidated filing of bail applications, but some of the defendants have failed to file their applications, while others have.
Justice Halilu, to this effect, queried the counsel concerned, Ndubuisi Kalu, representing the third, fourth and sixth defendants, who told the court that the said defendants would file their application for bail at a future date for proper commencement of proceedings.
Counsel to the first, second, fifth, ninth and tenth defendant, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, on the other hand, told the court that bail applications have been filed on behalf of his clients along with a motion and 10-paragraph affidavit for each of his clients.
Also, a response was filed to a 27-paragraph counter affidavit by the prosecution counsel, where Ejiofor outlined quotes where armed robbery was mentioned in the said affidavit of the prosecution.
The defense counsel, in opposition, said though the charge preferred against his clients were a serious one, there was no where in the proof of evidence or the charge sheet where armed robbery was mentioned, except for a statement of a witness of the prosecution.
While relying on contents of his motion, written addresses and affidavits filed on behalf of each accused, counsel to the eighth defendant, Hassan Luqman, also filed and requested same as the first defendant.
The defence counsel, therefore, urged the court to grant their clients bail on liberal terms.
The prosecution counsel vehemently opposed the application and filed a counter-application in opposition to the entire bail applications, followed by a written address and affidavit dated November 14, this year and deposed to by one Sergeant Umar Mohammed attached to the Legal Section of the FCT Police command.
Ezeala buttressed the counter-application with a document, which is an order of court emanating from Justice A. O. Adebiyi of an Osun State High Court.
The Judge, however, could not admit the document because it was not backed by judicial notice.
Ezeala urged the court all the same to refuse the application of the defendants, stating that granting the application would jeopardise the proceedings of the case, because the accused have another case to answer in a court of concurrent jurisdiction.
Justice Yusuf Halilu, after taking applications of parties, fixed January 26, next year for hearing, adding: “Meanwhile, the defendants should be returned back to Keffi Prison pending when ruling is given. ”
Ezeala told newsmen that the suspects have been known to have operated in Kwara and Osun states and have jumped bail in Asaba, the Delta State capital, and Awkuzu in Anambra State.
The accused were first arraigned on October 18, this year.