Laleye Dipo in Minna
A Minna High Court judge, Justice Aliyu Maiyaki, on TuesdayÂ directed that the former Governor of Niger State, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, should remain in Minna prison till May 3, 2017, when the application for his bail would be ruled upon.
Â Justice Maiyaki also directed that a former state Commissioner for Environment and later Chief of Staff, Umar Mohammed Nasko, should also be remanded in the Minna prison till May 3, 2017.
The duo are standing trial for corruption related offences brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The trial commenced yesterday.
The counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Gbolahan Latona,Â and the lead counsel to both Aliyu and Nasko, Mr. Ayodele Oladeji (SAN), had engaged in marathon legal arguments over the application for and against bail and whether the accused persons should be kept in EFCC custody or Minna prison.
Latona had submitted with evidence that the commission would found it difficult to continue investigation into the matter if the duo were granted bail.
Â Oladeji countered that his client had been in the EFCC custody for more than three weeks, a long enough time for the commission to complete its investigation.
Mike Daniels, in his submission for Nasko, said the former chief of staff had since his travail started, made himself available for questioning by operatives of the commission, meaning he would neither jump or obstruct investigation.
Justice Maiyaki, at about 4.15p.m., adjourned proceedings to May 3when he would rule on the application for bail.
He also, after citing several legal authorities, directed that the accused persons be kept at Minna prison till the date.
Earlier, Babangida Aliyu and Nasko pleaded not guilty to the amended six-count charge preferred against them by the commission.
The two accused persons wereÂ alleged to between January 1, 2011, and May 31, 2011, conspired among themselves to commit criminal breach of trust.
Aliyu was alleged to have between January 1 and May 31, 2011 dishonestly converted to his own personal, the sum of N520,348,000 which was withdrawn from Niger State Government House Security Account number 1012424374 in Zenith Bank, and thereby committed the offence contrary to section 311 of the Penal Code punishable under section 312 of the same code.
Â He was also accused of dishonestly converting to his own use the sum of N1,725,837,000 which was withdrawn from the state Government House security account.
The court room had been packed full of journalists, security personnel who were armed to the teeth as well as a few loyalists of the accused persons.
Security in and outside the high court premises was very tight. The major road leading to the court was cordoned off as only those with business in the area were allowed in, while some had to trek from the gate to the high court premises.
Meanwhile, despite the strenuous efforts to control protesters at the court, some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) youths still managed to stage a demonstration.
The protesting PDP youths, however, kept their distance from the court complex preferring to demonstrate on the major road leading to the Jure ultra-modern market, defying the scorching sun.
They chanted pro-Aliyu songs carrying placards with different inscriptions like â€˜Talba we trust, â€œTalba we knowâ€™, â€˜EFCC is a political dogâ€™, â€˜Free Talba, there are more thieves in APC than PDPâ€™ â€˜There is no changeâ€™.
Some of the protesters, who spoke with THISDAY, said the trial of the former governor was â€œpurely political.â€