The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) wednesday arraigned the quartet of Nicholas Ashinze, a former Special Assistant to the embattled former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; an Austrian, Wolfgang Reinl; Edidiong Idiong and Sagir D. Mohammed before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court in Abuja on a 13-count charge of corruption and money laundering to the tune of N36.8billion.
Ashinze, a colonel, and his co-accused were arraigned alongside five companies accused of allegedly diverting huge sums from the office of the former NSA.
The companies are: Geonel Integrated Services Limited, Unity Continental Nigeria Limited, Helpline Organization, Vibrant Resource Limited and Sologic Integrated Services Limited.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against them.
In view of their plea, counsel to EFCC, I. Uket, expressed readiness for trial to commence immediately saying he had the witnesses present in court.
“If the court is ready, we are also ready to produce our first witness as we have our witnesses in court”, he said.
But Ashinze’s counsel, Ernest Nwoye, told the court that he had a pending application for the bail of his client.
He urged the court to grant the defendant bail on self recognizance having earlier been admitted to bail by an FCT High Court.
Afam Osigwe, counsel representing the second and fifth defendants, also prayed the court to admit Reinl to bail.
He stated that his client has been enjoying administrative bail from the EFCC since February. He said that his travel documents are in the possession of the commission. He added that the accused has lived in Nigeria for over 23 years and is married to a Nigerian.
Ruling on the applications, Justice Kolawole held that the charges are all bailable adding that, “since each of the defendants has been on one administrative bail or the other, my sixth judicial sense informs me that I adopt the terms and conditions of the bail granted to the defendants by the EFCC and my learned brothers in the FCT High Courts.
The judge added that the case would be granted accelerated hearing and urged the prosecution to pick five days in the new year for trial.
Consequently, the case was adjourned to January 23, February 1 and14; and March 7 and 21, 2017.