By Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto
A Federal High Court sitting in Sokoto presided over by Justice Saleh Idrissa, Thursday granted bail to former Sokoto State Deputy Governor, Mukhtari Shagari and four others standing trial for alleged money laundering totalling N500 million from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison Madueke’s loot.
Others granted bail are a former commissioner for information Ibrahim Gidado, chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sokoto State Ibrahim Milgoma, treasurer Nasiru Dalhatu, as wells as the state PDP governorship candidate in the 2015 elections, Abdallah Wali.
The five accused persons are standing trial on a five-count charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), bordering on alleged money laundering which contravened Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 and punishable under section 16(2) (b) of the act.
In his ruling, Justice Idrissa granted the accused persons bail in the sum of N25 million each with two sureties in like sum.
“The sureties should be a civil servant on grade level 13 and a respected member of the community who must be a resident of the state with a net worth of N25 million.
“The accused persons should also deposit their international passport before the court and deposit affidavit of means worth N25 million,” he stated.
The judge said all the alleged offences were bailable as they bordered on issues of money and financial transactions not capital offences.
Idrissa to this end adjourned the case to July 5, 2018 for the continuation of trial.
Earlier, the EFCC counsel, Mr. Taufik Lasisi, told the court that the offences bordered on money laundering and cash transaction outside regulated financial institution.
Lasisi said the action contravened the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, punishable under section 16 (2) (b) of the act.
According to him, the offences were committed in March 2015 and that the N500 million was handed over to the accused by one Abdulrahman Ibrahim.
In his submission, counsel to Gidado, Dalhatu and Milgoma, Ibrahim Abdullahi, moved applications for bail for the accused persons.
Abdullahi argued that the defendants had been on EFCC administrative bail since 2016 without jumping bail and assured Idrissa that they would be available throughout the trial period.
He pointed out that based on the facts filed by the prosecution, investigations had been concluded into the case, as such the defendants would not likely jeopardise any investigation.
Also, Ibrahim Idris and Aiyelabegan Abdulkadiri, counsel to Shagari and Wali, respectively, aligned with Abdullahi’s submission, and added that the court should allow the administrative bail to continue.