Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Thursday granted bail in the sum of N500 million to a British citizen, James Nolan who is standing trial in the controversial contract between the federal government and an Irish firm, Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Ltd.
Nolan was arraigned alongside Adam Quinn (at large), on October 22 over their alleged involvement in the controversial gas supply agreement.
The defendants, both directors of Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution (DNFI) and ICIL Limited, were arraigned on a 16-count charge bordering on money laundering.
The Gas Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA) which was signed in 2010 is now a subject of litigation following the award of whopping sum of $9.6billion judgment debt against Nigeria.
Nolan however pleaded not guilty to the charge and accordingly applied to the court for his bail.
Delivering ruling on the bail application yesterday, Justice Abang, who stated that bail is at the discretion of the court and that the offence is bail able, admitted the defendant to bail with one surety in like sum.
The surety who must be a serving Senator, must be someone that does not have a criminal case that is pending in any court in the country and must have a landed property that is fully developed in the Maitama District of Abuja.
In addition, the court held that an officer of the Court will verify the statutory Certificate of Occupancy of the property as issued by the Federal Capital Territory Administration.
Another condition attached to the bail is that the proposed surety must submit a three years tax clearance certificate and sign an undertaking to always be present in court with the defendant throughout the duration of the trial.
The surety is to depose an affidavit of means with two passport photographs and undertake to pay the total bail sum, should the defendant escape from the country before the conclusion of his trial.
The court equally ordered the defendant to surrender all his international passports, even as it mandated the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to confirm how many passports that were issued to him within the past 20 years.
In a 14-paragraph affidavit dated October 22 and deposed to by his lawyer, Emeka Nneji, the applicant, prayed the court to grant his bail application.
Nolan, who disclosed that he had lived in Nigeria since 1998, said that he had serious and medical condition which required constant interaction with his doctor.
He claimed to have invested in human and infrastructural development in Nigeria, adding that he has no criminal record that could warrant not being granted bail.
He said he was even conferred with a chieftaincy title in Kebbi State as part of the appreciation of his good work.
The Briton, who pledged not to jump bail if granted, assured that he would not interfere in the investigation.
He, therefore, appealed to the court to grant him bail since the offence was bailable, adding that he was still innocent until the court proved him guilty.
Responding, Prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga told the court that the defendant was arrested after an extensive covert manhunt that stretched for over two weeks.
He told the court that the defendant was a signatory to accounts of Process and Industrial Developments Limited, P&ID, Nigeria, the in-Country Support Manager of P&ID, Virgin Island.
The prosecution alleged that the defendant engaged in money laundering and tax evasion, forgery of immigration documents, running of a trafficking syndicate and was involved in corrupting Nigerian officials.
In urging the court not to grant the defendant bail, the prosecution told the court that it got an intelligence report that the defendant concluded plans to “sneak out of the country” before he was apprehended by security operatives.