By FAITH OMORUYI A
Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja yesterday granted bail to eight of the indicted marketers in the oil subsidy scam probe. They had been arraigned last Friday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Justice Lateefat Okunnu granted two of the oil marketers - Aro Bamidele and Abiodun Bankole bail in the sum of N100 million each with three sureties in like sum.
While canvassing for the bail application, the defence counsel, Anthony Idigbe (SAN) asked the court through two bail summons supported with a 17-paragraph and 18-paragraph affidavit respectively for bail in liberal terms. Though EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) did not oppose the bail application, asked the court to impose stringent conditions, to ensure that the defendants always appear for trial. Delivering ruling on the bail application, Justice Okunnu granted the application on the ground that a defendant was presumed innocent until found guilty by a competent court of law.
The court ordered that the defendants’ sureties swear to affidavit means indicating their financial details and that they could pay the bail bond. It added that the sureties must be resident in Lagos, two of which must have landed property in Lagos, while the third must be a Director in a public/ private registered company in Nigeria and must show evidence of tax payment for three years preceding the year of trial. Other orders were that an official of EFCC should within 72 hours of submission verify all particulars and thereafter swear an affidavit to this, while the court registrar must also verify all particulars.
It also ordered that they must not travel out of the country without the court’s permission and must deposit their international passports and report at the EFCC office at a specified date and time once every month throughout the duration of the trial. Meanwhile, a sister court, Justice Habeeb Abiru granted three of the marketers – Ifeanyi Anosike, Emeka Chukwu and Ngozi Ikeoma bail in the sum of N75 million and two sureties in like sum.
He ordered that the sureties must have landed properties in Lagos and they must be gainfully employed. In addition, the sureties were ordered to show evidence of tax payment for three years and all documents must be verified by an EFCC operative, while their international passports be deposited with the court. Justice Abiru also granted bail to three other suspects – Alhaji Adamu Aliyu Maula, George Ogbonna and Emmanuel Morah in the sum of N50 million with two sureties in like sum.
The sureties must be resident in Lagos, show evidence of three-year tax payment and have landed property worth not less than N50 million. The charges preferred against the marketers and their companies bordered on conspiracy, obtaining by false pretence, conspiracy to forge documents and uttering of documents. EFCC alleged that the marketers and their companies had conspired to and also obtained huge sums of money from the Federal Government purporting the sum to be payment for subsidy under the Petrol Support Fund for the purported importation of Premium Motor spirit from Europe to Nigeria.
The EFCC also alleged that all the defendants at various times, forged different bill of ladens for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) not supplied to claim the Federal Government subsidy on fuel.