A Federal High Court in Sokoto on Thursday granted bail to a former Minister of Water Resources, Mukhtar Shagari, and four others standing trial over alleged N500 million illegal dealings with former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Madueke.
Others granted bail are: Ibrahim Gidado, a former Information Commissioner; Sokoto State Chairman and Treasurer of PDP, Ibrahim Milgoma and Nasiru Dhalhatu, as well as the PDP state governorship candidate in 2015, Abdallah Wali.
Ruling on the bail application, the judge, Saleh Idrissa-Kogo, said he had considered all the bail applications made on behalf the defendants by their respective counsels as well as objections on them from the prosecution.
The judge, therefore, held that the court was disposed to granting the applications.
He said the court was convinced by applicants’ depositions that they would be available to stand justice when granted the bail.
The judge also said that the alleged offences were bailable as they bordered on money and financial transactions and not capital offences.
Mr Idrissa-Kogo went ahead to grant the applicants the bail in the sum of N25 million each with two sureties in like sum.
He ordered that one of the sureties should be a civil servant not below grade level 13.
He ordered the five accused persons to be remanded in prison custody until the bail conditions were perfected.
The judge, therefore, adjourned the case to July 5 for hearing.
The five men are facing five-count charge bordering on alleged N500 million fraud brought against them by the EFCC.
The accused persons had pleaded not guilty to all the charges during their arraignment in 2016.
While presenting the bail application, Ibrahim Abdullahi, counsel to Messrs Gidado, Dhalhatu and Milgoma, said his clients were already on EFCC administrative bail since 2016 without jumping it.
He prayed the court to flow on similar direction, adding that the applicants would be available to stand justice throughout the trial period.
He noted that based on the facts filed by the prosecution, investigations had been concluded thereby leaving no room for the applicants to jeopardise the case.
Also, Ibrahim Idris and Aiyelabegan Abdulkadiri, counsels to Shagari and Wali, respectively, aligned with Mr Abdullahi’s submissions and urged the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the defendants and allow the administrative bail to continue.
However, Johnson Ogogbane, counsel to EFCC had told the court that the offences bordered on money laundering and cash transaction outside regulated financial institutions.
Mr Ogogbane, represented by Taoufik Lasisi, prayed the court to refuse the applications, adding that the applicants were powerful people that could jeopardise further investigation that might be required if given freedom.
The alleged fraud contravenes the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the Act.
The prosecution had averred that the offences were committed in March 2015.
The charged sheet had shown that the sum of N500 million was handed over to the applicants by one Abdulrahman Ibrahim traceable to Mrs Madueke.