The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, granted N200 million bail to Dibu Ojerinde, a former Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), who is being prosecuted on fraud charges.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) had charged Mr Ojerinde with 18 counts of fraud.
In the case marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/97/21, ICPC accused the former chief executive officer of committing the offences while heading JAMB and the National Examination Council (NECO) at different times.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Earlier on Tuesday, the judge, Obiora Egwuatu, refused to entertain the defence team’s oral bail application and ordered his remand till Thursday.
The defence subsequently filed a written bail application which was opposed by the prosecution through a written address with counter-affidavit.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how prison authorities produced Mr Ojerinde late for the bail hearing on Thursday with the judge having to warn ICPC against delays in the matter.
After listening to the parties arguments, eventually, the judge granted the bail application.
Putting the bail bond at N200million, Mr Egwuatu ordered Mr Ojerinde to produce two sureties one of whom must be a professor in a federal university, as part of the bail conditions.
The judge also ruled that the professor surety must provide documented evidence of professorship, letter of appointment, and staff identity card.
He also said the other surety must own a landed property in Abuja worth the bail sum, and must be verified by the court registrar.
The judge, who ruled that the sureties must produce the evidence of three years tax clearance, ordered that the certified true copy of the defendant’s travel documents being held by a court in Minna, Niger State, should be brought.
Why ICPC opposed bail
Earlier, defence lawyer, Peter Olorunnisola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, informed the court the court he filed a bail application for his client on June 29.
He said that the defence also filed processes on July 7 in response to the counter affidavit of the prosecution.
Mr Olorunnisola urged the court to grant his client bail in line with section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and Section 35(1) of the Nigerian constitution.
ICPC’s lawyer, Ebenezer Shogunle, opposed the bail application claiming that Mr Ojerinde breached the conditions of the administrative bail granted him prior his arraignment in court.
Asked by the judge to describe how Mr Ojerinde violated the bail conditions, Mr Shogunle said that after he was granted the bail, he promised to produce some of the suspects listed for investigations, some of whom were members of his (Ojerinde’s) family, but failed to do so.
“So how does that amount to breaching the administrative bail?” the judge queried.
Responding, Mr Shogunle said if granted bail, the defendant would interfere with the investigation as well as intimidate witnesses.
But the defence lawyer, Mr Olorunnisola, who countered him, said granting bail was at the discretion of the court.
The senior lawyer further argued that the anti-graft agency had already concluded its investigation, therefore, keeping him in detention endlessly would not be in the interest of justice.
How ICPC’s objection was dismissed
Delivering his ruling, the trial judge, Mr Egwuatu, held that there was no evidence before the court to prove that the defendant jumped administrative bail, interfered with investigations, or intimidated witnesses.
He added that the prosecution had already concluded its investigation of the matter.
Granting the bail application, the judge said the issue of bail is a matter of the court’s discretion.
He adjourned the matter till July 22 and 23 for trial.
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