Our cell overcrowded with suspected subsidy thieves, says EFCC

EFCC_operatives

Ben Ezeamalu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday told a Lagos High Court that its cells had become overcrowded by suspected fuel subsidy fraudsters who were granted bail by the courts but have yet to meet the bail conditionalities.

At the hearing of the bail application for four suspects arraigned at the Ikeja High court for fraud related offences, the commission said the suspects should be kept in prison while they try to meet their bail conditions because its cell already swarms with subsidy fraudsters.

Rotimi Jacobs, counsel to the EFCC, told the court that Messrs Anayo Nwosu, Ashok Isran, Olajide Oshodi, and Sunny Obazee should be kept in prison pending fulfillment of their bail conditions.

Habeeb Abiru, the presiding judge, however, ruled that they be remanded in EFCC custody.

Mr. Isran, the Managing Director of Nulec Industries and the others who are officials of Keystone Bank (formerly Bank PHB) were arraigned on a two count charge of conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretence.

The quartet were alleged to have, in 2008, obtained N855 million from one Daniel Chukwudozie of Dozzy Oil under the pretence that the sum represented payment for preference shares of Nulec Industries in an upcoming initial public offer.

They pleaded not guilty to both charges.

While reacting to their bail applications, Mr. Jacobs said that he was “concerned about” Mr. Isran, who has Swiss/Indian citizenship.

“My fear is with the second defendant (Mr. Isran). We are not in principle opposing bail because emphasis should be on the trial but the condition is the main thing,” Mr. Jacobs said.

“We are not opposing bail based on dual citizenship, passports alone cannot guarantee his presence.

“The IPO (Investigating Police Officer) said the second defendant left the country for three years. We are looking for conditions that will ensure his presence in court,” he added.

Aligning with Mr. Jacobs; Uche Obi, counsel to Messrs Nwosu, Oshodi, and Obazee also asked the judge to impose strict bail conditions “because the defendants want to clear their name and continue with their career.”

A.A Badejo, counsel to Mr. Isran, said that his client has been on administrative bail which he complied with.

“On the issue of disappearance, he did not disappear. He voluntarily reported himself to the EFCC after returning from Switzerland where he had gone for the final burial rite of his first son

“There is evidence to show that he was in correspondence with the EFCC,” Mr. Badejo said.

Bail Conditions

In his ruling, Mr. Abiru demanded a letter of undertaking from the management of Keystone Bank to be signed by the bank’s Chairman and Managing Director. The trio were granted bail in the sum of N100 million each.

The judge also granted bail to Mr. Isran in the sum of N50 million with two sureties in like sum.

He must not travel outside the country and his sureties must have landed properties within Lagos and must show evidence of tax payment for two years.

The defendants were also ordered to deposit their travelling documents with the EFCC after being verified by the High Court Chief Registrar, among other conditions.

Trial was fixed for October 22 and 23.


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