Jubilation in Jos as Court Grants Jang Bail

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Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

It was a massive jubilation in the city of Jos, Plateau State capital, following the ruling of the state High Court 5 which granted the bail application filed by the former Governor of the state and Senator representing Plateau North in the National Assembly, Jonah David Jang.
The court also granted the former cashier to the state government in the Jang administration, Mr. Yusuf Gyang Pam, who was indicted with him.

The ruling, which stirred up jubilation within and outside the court premises as well as the streets of Jos among Jang’s supporters, caused gridlock in the city centre as the long convoy which accompanied his car and that of the Chairman, Plateau State Traditional Council, Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Gyang Buba, moved slowly amidst cheers and dancing from well-wishers.

The people alleged that his incarceration was a mere political persecution by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration against the opposition.

Recounting the avalanche of landmark achievements of Jang in the state during his eight-year administration, the people said it was difficult to see his match on the Plateau, warning that if a leader has done well, he ought to be appreciated and not persecuted.

Delivering the ruling, Justice Daniel Longji, who had earlier stated that “by the grace of God, nobody can influence me in any of the cases before me,” also warned the media to stop misrepresenting him in their reports.

Longji said: “I have considered both the arguments/submissions, and I am not in doubt that it is trite that anyone who is accused of an offence which punishment exceeds three years may not ordinarily be granted bail until certain conditions are met.

“In considering whether to grant or not a bail to an accused person, the court is guided by the nature of the charge; the severity of the punishment in the event of conviction; the strength of the evidence by which the charge is supported; the criminal record of the accused (if any); the likelihood of the repetition of the offence, and the probability that the accused may not surrender himself for trial, thus not bringing himself to justice.

“Others are the risk that if released, the accused may interfere with the witnesses or suppress the evidence likely to incriminate him and the necessity to procure medical treatment or social report pending the disposal of the case.”

He said: “However, the first accused/applicant through his deponent, deposed ‘that before the institution of this case, he was invited to the office of the EFCC in relation to the alleged offences to attend an interview at the EFCC, Abuja office, on the following dates: January 16, 2018; January 17, 2018; April 23, 2018; April 25, 2018; May 3, 2018, and May 7, 2018, respectively, invitations which he honoured and was given administrative bail.

“That when he was granted administrative bail, he never failed to attend all appointments given him by the complainant and have complied with all the conditions of the administrative bail given to him. And that if granted bail, he will not commit any offence and will not evade trial or escape from justice.”

The Justice said the accused also said if granted bail, he would not influence, interfere with, intimidate witnesses and/or interfere with the investigation of the case, and that he would not conceal or destroy evidence or prejudice the proper investigation of the offence, and would dutifully attend the court trial throughout the hearing of the case up to the conclusion.

Longji, however, said looking closely at the judicial interpretation of bail, one cannot escape the fact that an accused/convict must necessarily have sureties into whose hands the court would deliver him into, which he is accounted for by law in order to be in their custody.

He said: “I therefore hereby grant bail to the 1st and 2nd accused in the following terms; for the 1st accused person (Jang), two sureties in the sum of N100 million only each. One of the sureties shall be a first class traditional ruler within the jurisdiction of the court.

“For the second accused, two sureties in the sum of N50 million only each; one of the sureties shall be a person of the status of a Permanent Secretary or its equivalent.

“The 1st and 2nd accused shall surrender their international passports to the Chief Registrar of the High Court pending the trial or further order(s).”

The judge specifically ordered the EFCC counsel, Mr. O. A. Atolajebe, to ensure that the accused international passports which are current with the anti-graft agent are immediately retrieved and brought to Registrar of the court.

The Gbong Gwom Jos, a first class traditional ruler, who was not in court at the time of ruling, immediately hurried to the court to stand as a surety for Jang and secured his bail.