Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court yesterday admitted former Senator Shehu Sani to bail in the sum of N10 million.
Senator Sani who represented Kaduna Central in the last National Assembly was arraigned on a two-count charge bordering on alleged fraud and bribery.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and his lawyer, Mr. Abdul Ibrahim (SAN), drew the court’s attention to a bail application filed by the defendant.
Ruling on the bail, Justice Ekwo held that bail is at the discretion of the court, adding that the prosecution had not provided any strong ground on which the defendant would not be granted bail. He subsequently admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N10 million and one surety in like sum. The surety, the court held must have a landed property within the jurisdiction of the court and that the value of the said property must not be less than the bail sum.
The registrar of the court, the court held, should inspect the property. The court in addition ordered that Sani should deposit his international passport with the court and must not travel outside the country without the permission of the court.
In the charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the federal government is accusing the former senator of collecting a total of $25,000 from one Sani Dauda on November 20, 2019, under false pretence.
According to the charge, Sani was alleged to have collected the money as part of a bribe to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, to influence some of the pending cases in court involving the complainant (Sani Dauda).
While in count one, he was accused of collecting the sum of $15,000 to bribe the CJN, in count two he was alleged to have collected $10,000 from Dauda to bribe Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the acting Chairman of the EFCC.
In arguing Sani’s bail, his lawyer, told the court that the former Senator is a responsible married man with kids, who will not do anything capable of disrupting investigation by the EFCC.
The lawyer added that he is ready to present reasonable persons as sureties to ensure his attendance at trial.
In the 15-paragraph affidavit accompanying the bail application, one Suleiman Ahmed, an aide to Sani averred that, on January 9, the former Senator was subjected to a biometric test, which he complied with but declined to lift up a billboard for the officers to snap him, to tarnish his political career.
He said Sani, if granted bail, can adequately prepare for his defence, while also catering for his family and business, just as he said that the offences for which the former lawmaker was charged do not attract capital punishment.
Opposing the bail application, prosecution counsel, Abba Mohammed, urged the court to deny the former lawmaker bail on the grounds that he will jump bail.
He told the court in a six paragraphs affidavit that Sani had, several time refused to honour the invitation of the anti-graft agency during investigation and that, there is the tendency of him jumping bail if granted.
The prosecution indicated that 14 witnesses shall be called in the matter to prove its case against the former lawmaker.
Meanwhile, Justice Ekwo has fixed February 24, 25 and 26 for commencement of trial.