News Analysis: Hefty bail for small ‘thief’, paltry bail for subsidy ‘thieves’

Former House of Reps Speaker, Dimeji Bankole's trial had a high media buzz

Alleged criminals should be treated equally and fairly in relation to their crimes.

A federal court in Port Harcourt, Thursday, set a N1 million bail for a man accused of stealing nearly the same amount, contrasting with what seems a slap-on-the wrist bail condition given to fuel subsidy suspects involved in billions of naira theft.

Abdullahi Mohammed, 72, was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday for “falsely” obtaining N1.155 million, and the commission celebrated the case in a widely circulated media announcement.

On a scale, Mr. Mohammed’s bail fee would amount to paying about five naira as bail for stealing six naira.

On the other hand, some suspects of the subsidy fraud secured a N20 million bail after they were accused of fraudulently receiving about N5 billion. It would amount to paying the same N5 in bail fees for stealing N12, 500.

Mr. Mohammed was arraigned on Wednesday before Justice Abubakar Tijani of the Federal High Court II, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on a one-count charge of obtaining the amount under the false pretence that he was a registered distributor of Indomie noodles.

The commission, known for celebrating convictions arising from relatively small scale theft, accused Mr. Mohammed of obtaining the sum from one Ahmed Sani. He allegedly claimed to be an agent and registered distributor of Dufil Prima Company, makers of Indomie noodle in Choba, Port Harcourt.

Mr. Mohammed denied the charge and was granted bail in the sum of N1million with one surety in like sum. The surety, who must be within the jurisdiction of the court, must have landed property.

A comparison of Mr. Mohammed’s bail conditions and that of fuel subsidy suspects shows that there is a huge problem with our justice system. Since the granting of bail and the setting of bail conditions are at the discretion of judges, our judges probably need to be more forthright in executing their discretion.

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