Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the High Court of Lagos State, on Thursday, granted bail to Mahmud Tukur, Mamman Nasir Ali, and two others.
While Abdullahi Alao, scion of business tycoon Arisekola Alao, also got bail from Mr. Onigbanjo’s court; Mr. Habeeb Abiru, in whose court he was arraigned on a seven count charge of allegedly obtaining N2.6billion, ruled that he be remanded in the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) custody till August 1 when his bail application would be heard.
Mr. Onigbanjo, while stating that granting the defendants bail was necessary so that the matter would be “diligently prosecuted”; asked for N20million with two sureties each in like sum.
Other bail conditions
Other conditions for bail include that one of the sureties must be a blood relative of the applicant with landed property within the state valued at N100million; the second surety must be an employee of Lagos State or public service not below Grade Level 16; the applicants would deposit their international passports; and evidence of tax payments by the sureties for the preceding three years.
Others include that the residential and business address of the sureties be verified by the EFCC; verification of the physical location of sureties’ properties; and verification of the identities of the sureties by the court’s chief registrar.
Mr. Tukur, Mr. Alao, and Ochonogor Alex pleaded not guilty to all nine counts of obtaining monies under false pretense and falsification of documents.
Their company, Eternal Oil And Gas Plc, allegedly obtained N1.9 billion from the Petroleum support Fund for a purported importation of 80.3million litres of Premium Motor Spirit.
While making a case for the judge to be lenient in his bail terms, Wole Olanipekun, counsel to Messrs. Tukur and Alex, told the court that the latter returned to the country for the purpose of the trial.
Mr. Onigbanjo said that the status and terms of employment of the sureties are very important.
“The major issue is the assurance that the man will not take flight,” he said.
The judge adjourned till November 13 and 14 for commencement of trial. Also, the defendants are to be remanded in EFCC custody until bail conditions are met.
Bail on self recognition
An earlier arraignment involving Messrs Ali, Christian Taylor, and Olabisi Abdulazeez – who is now at large – was adjourned till October 30 and November 12 for trial.
The young men, who pleaded not guilty to a three count charge of obtaining N4.4billion from the federal government under false pretence, would also be in EFCC’s custody until they meet their bail conditions.
Joe Gazama, counsel to the defendants, in pleading for bail for his clients said that they should be granted bail on self-recognition since Mr. Ali “is the son of an influential member of the society”.
“They have never committed any criminal offences in the past. They have been there at the insistence of the EFCC at all times,” Mr. Gazama argued.
After the judge reeled out the bail conditions, Mr. Gazama brought his attention to the fact that Mr. Taylor is Sierra Leonean and may have difficulties getting surety who is a blood relative.
The judge told him to file a formal application to that effect.