The accused person is standing trial on a six count charge of fuel subsidy fraud.
Abdullahi Alao, the son of Abdulazeez Arisekola Alao, Ibadan based business mogul, was Thursday, re-arraigned before an Ikeja High Court on a six-count charge of fuel subsidy fraud amounting to over N2 billion.
Abdullahi Alao and his company, Axe Energy Ltd, are accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, of fraudulently obtaining payments for the importation of 33,000 litres of fuel in 2011, which they never imported.
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Mr. Alao was first arraigned, last August, before Justice Habeeb Abiru, whose elevation to the Court of Appeal has led to cases scheduled in his court being re-assigned to other judges.
Taiwo Osipitan, counsel to Mr. Alao, urged the court to allow his client to continue on the bail granted him by the previous judge, or impose softer conditions.
“I urge the court not to give stiffer conditions. He (Mr. Alao) was granted bail on the 1st of August, he remained in the custody of the EFCC for 14 days,” said Mr. Osipitan, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“Once he’s granted bail, everyday in custody affects his liberty,” Mr. Osipitan, a Professor of Public Law, added.
The EFCC opposed the application.
Francis Usani, the commission’s lawyer, urged the court to disregard the defendant’s request to continue on bail, an application which infuriated Mr. Osipitan.
“The issue of bail is discretionary,” Mr. Usani said.
“And the law is that the court should treat any case before it on its own merit, and not whether the accused had been granted bail earlier.
“I refuse the bail on the grounds that there are not sufficient material before the court,” he added.
Mr. Osipitan branded the EFCC counsel a ‘persecutor’ who acts like he has a personal interest in the matter.
“The only material before the court are our own material. They (EFCC) don’t have any conflicting material,” said Mr. Osipitan.
“We have shown that the accused person is a breadwinner who has many dependants, not convicted of any criminal offence before.
“I’m sure (Justice) Abiru will not be happy if he hears that someone he granted bail has been sent back into custody,” he added.
Olabisi Akinlade, the trial judge, noted that “she was not bound to grant bail because my brother had already granted him bail.
She, however, granted Mr. Alao bail largely on the same terms given by Mr. Abiru – N100 million; two sureties who must possess tax clearance and certificates; deposit travel documents with the Chief Registrar; and EFCC investigators verifying the addresses of the sureties.
The accused, according to the court, would fulfill only those bail conditions not previously met before Mr. Abiru, meaning that he continues to enjoy the freedom granted him by the previous judge.
Mr. Alao is also facing trial before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo on a charge of N1.8 billion fuel subsidy fraud alongside Mahmud Tukur, son of the Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur; Alex Ochonogor; and Eterna Oil and Gas Plc.
He is also appearing before Justice Lateefat Okunnu over an alleged involvement in a N1.1 billion fuel subsidy fraud.