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Court Admits Suspended Accountant General, Two Others to Bail in Alleged N109bn Fraud
Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Jadesola Adeyemi-Ajayi of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama, Abuja, yesterday granted bail to the former Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris and two others arraigned before her on an alleged N109 billion fraud.
The bail was granted in line with the same terms and conditions of the earlier administrative bail granted the defendants by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).
Idris alongside Mr. Godfrey Akindele, Mr. Mohammed Usman and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited were last week arraigned before the court on a 14- count criminal charge bordering on alleged stealing and breach of trust and money laundering to the tune of over N109 billion.
However, following their plea of not guilty, the court had ordered their remand at the Kuje Correctional Center, Abuja pending the hearing and determination of their bail application and subsequent trial.
Ruling in the bail applications argued by Chief Chris Uche, Mr. Peter Abalaka and Mr. Mohammed Ndayako for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively, the court held that the offenses charged against the defendants were bailable and that the court was inclined to admit them to bail.
“In line with the due process and supremacy of the law, the defendants are still entitled to bail, irrespective of the enormity of the allegations against them”, the court held.
The judge further observed that the EFCC did not in any of its processes, stated that the defendants misbehaved while on administrative bail.
Conditions attached to the bail was that the defendants must remain within the FCT, Abuja, and must seek consent of the court before travelling out.
Defendants are also to depose to an affidavit of assurance to abide by all their bail conditions.
The court held that the defendants must deposit their passports with the Court’s Registrar and also give assurance that they would not procure alternate passports during the pendency of the case.
Meanwhile, the judge ordered that the defendants should remain in custody at the Kuje Correctional Center until they are able to perfect their bail conditions.
Part of the 14-count charge against the defendants read: “That you, Ahmed Idris between February and December, 2021 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, being a public servant by virtue of your position as the Accountant General of the Federation accepted from Olusegun Akindele, a gratification in the aggregate sum of N15.1 billion which sum was converted to the United States Dollars by the said Olusegun Akindele and which sum did not form part of your lawful remuneration but as a motive for accelerating the payment of 13 per cent derivation to the nine oil-producing states in the Federation, through the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 155 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and punishable under the same section.
“That you, Ahmed Idris while being the Accountant General of the Federation and Godfrey Olusegun Akindele while being the Technical Assistant to the Accountant General of the Federation between February and November, 2021, at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, in such capacity, entrusted with certain property, to wit: N84.390 billion committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property, when you dishonestly received the said sum from the Federal Government of Nigeria through Godfrey Olusegun Akindele trading under the name and style of Olusegun Akindele & Co., and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.”
Meanwhile, the EFCC earlier disclosed that a Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Ahmed, whose name was originally included in count-11 of the charge, would appear as one of its witnesses in the matter.
Besides the Permanent Secretary’s testimony, the agency, said it was in possession of confessional statements that were made by both the former AGF and his co-defendants.
It said the extra-judicial statements were made in the presence of lawyers representing the defendants, adding that some of the witnesses, among whom are contractors, admitted that huge sums of money were paid to them by the former AGF, for contracts they never executed.
President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed Idris as AGF on June 25, 2015.
He was subsequently re-appointed for a second four-year term in June 2019, amid criticisms from labour groups, who had argued that he ought to have been retired after clocking 60 years.
The ex-AGF was arrested on May 16 by the EFCC over allegation that he diverted and laundered over N80 billion from the public coffers.
The EFCC said its investigations revealed that the ex-AGF raked off the funds through bogus consultancies, non-existent contracts and other illegal activities, using proxies, family members and close associates.
It alleged that the funds were also laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja.
Idris was arrested in Kano, following his alleged refusal to honour invitations of the EFCC for questioning.