Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
An Abuja High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, yesterday granted a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, and two others arraigned before it for alleged diversion of N2.3 billion bail in the sum of N50million.
The money was meant for the compensation of property owners affected by dualisation project of Section IV of the East West Road.
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 was filed by the Independent Corrupt Practices an Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Orubebe had denied any wrong doing. He 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.
In his 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 N10million 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 N20 million 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 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.
He adjourned to November 10 for commencement of trial.