Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on Friday granted bail to a former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Maurice Iwu, in the sum of N1 billion, with two sureties in like sum.
“The first surety shall be resident in Lagos State and shall transmit his land use as evidence of ownership of property in Lagos State and furnish the court with evidence of payment of tax from three years prior to today. As proof of address, the defendant shall furnish the court with his statement of account with any bank in Nigeria with passport photograph. The bank shall depose to the photograph as true identity of the account holder.
“The defendant and sureties shall provide two of their recent passports for court record. The defendant shall cease all manner of communication either directly or by proxy with any of the witnesses the prosecution might call in this matter.
“The second surety must be a civil servant in the state within the grade of level 16 or a professor in any of the universities in Nigeria. The second surety shall provide proof of tax for three years prior to today. Must be resident in Lagos and as proof of address, he shall provide statement of account to which a passport photograph will be attached which the bank shall depose as the true identity of the account holder.
“The defendant shall keep the original copy of his international passport with this court and shall not travel outside the country without the approval of this court. Deputy registrar of the Lagos division shall verify all documents submitted by the defendant and sureties and pending the perfection of bail, the defendant shall be remanded in prison custody at Ikoyi prison.”
Earlier in the proceeding, Ahmed Raji, counsel to the defendant, urged the court to disregard the position of the prosecution that Mr Iwu could tamper with witnesses if granted bail.
“The prosecution must come with evidence of attempt to intimidate or tamper with witness and not just their feelings and premonitions. This is the position of law.
“The law imposes a duty on the prosecution to produce evidence of attempt. When an attempt is made after granting bail, the prosecution can apply for review of bail or charge the defendant with another offence.
“On his request for stringent bail terms, I request My Lord pays attention to the provision that says bail be granted in liberal terms.”
Pleading with the court to deny bail to the defendant, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said, “We have witnesses that have worked closely with the defendant and if granted bail, they will intimidate and interfere with our witnesses.
“In the unlikely event that the bail is granted, I urge Your Lordship to impose such conditions that will compel him to come to court and conditions that will make sure our witnesses are not tampered with and no contact between them, both formally and informally especially with witnesses that have worked with him at one point or the other.
“I also urge the court to impose conditions that will ensure that if he absconds, we would be able to lay hands on something that is equivalent to the N1.2 billion under dispute. ”
Mr Iwu is facing a four-count charge bordering on aiding unlawful concealment of funds suspected to be proceeds of fraud. He is said to have between December 2014 and March 27, 2015, aided the concealment of N1.2 billion.