Orubebe, Others Granted Bail as Court Fixes N2.3bn Diversion Trial for Nov 10

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

An Abuja High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, in Wednesday granted bail at N50 million to former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, and two others arraigned before it for alleged diversion of N2.3 billion meant for the compensation of property owners affected by the dualisation project of Section IV of the East West Road.

Godsday Orubebe, Oludare Lawrence Alaba (an Assistant Director, Ministry of Niger Delta Affiars), Ephraim Tewolde Zeri (Director of Contracts in Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nigeria Limited and the company were arraigned on a six-count charge.

The charges were filed by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).

Orubebe had denied any wrongdoing.

Orubebe and others pleaded not guilty to the charge,

Their lawyers, including Selekeowei Larry, SAN, (for Orubebe) and Kanu Agabi, SAN, for Zeri and Gitto) urged the court to grant the defendants bail on liberal terms.

Larry even urged the court to grant Orubebe bail on self recognition on the grounds that he had served the country as a minister.

Ruling, Justice Kayode Adeniyi noted the fact that Orubebe had served as a minister, and said he was entitled to bail, more so when he was presumed innocent at this stage in the case.

He granted Orubebe bail at N10m and one surety, who must be a responsible Nigerian, resident in Abuja and must show evidence of regular tax payment.

The judge granted Alaba and Zeri bail at N20m and one surety each, who are to be residents in Abuja. He said Alaba’s surety must be an Assistant Director in any Federal Government’s agency, while Zeri’s surety must own property in Abuja and show evidence of ownership.

Justice Adeniyi ordered the defendants to be kept in ICPC’s custody pending when they were able to process the bail granted them.