The EFCC counsel opposed bail for the accused.
A former Head of Service in Oyo State, Kudirat Adeleke, was in the United Kingdom for a cosmetic surgery when operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, came to her Ibadan residence to arrest her in June 2010, Gbolahan Latona, counsel to the anti-graft agency, told the state High Court in Ibadanon Thursday.
Mr. Latona, who was reacting to the content of an affidavit in support of a bail application in favour of Mrs. Adeleke, said, contrary to the claim by the defence counsel, Richard Ogunwole, that she was away in London to seek medical attention on an health challenge, the former Head of Service was there for an operation that would trim down her belly.
Mrs. Adeleke and 11 other officials of the state government were standing trial over an alleged involvement in a N5.6 billion pension fraud.
They were arraigned by the EFCC before Justice Bolaji Yussuf of the state High Court on a 213-count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money through false pretense and forgery.
Mrs. Adeleke’s co-defendants included Muili Hakeem, Iyabo Giwa, Adesina Ayoade, Oguntayo Banji, Adebiyi Olasunmbo and Muili Adedamola.
Others were Adeduntan Johnson, Bosede Johnson, Kareem Rasheed, Olujimi Adebayo and Adewale Kehinde.
According to the charge sheet, the accused persons withdrew the money from accounts belonging to the Oyo State Local Government Staff Pension Board in Fin Bank (now First City Monument Bank), Zenith Bank and Stanbic/IBTC bank, between September 2010 and March 2011.
The accounts were opened to effect payment of the pension and gratuities of retired local government workers in the state.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges when it was read to them at last week’s sitting.
Counsels to the accused persons had a hectic time pushing for their release from prison. Apart from the few who wanted bail for their client on health ground, all the accused persons harped on the fact that the offences for which they were standing trial were bailable and they had, previously, not jumped bail.
Mr. Ogunwale, who led the team of lawyers representing the former HOS, prayed the court to grant his client bail, arguing that she voluntarily surrendered herself to the EFCC after the latter had failed to get her arrested when they stormed her residence in Ibadan while she was in London.
He said Mrs. Adeleke and the other accused persons were granted bail by an Ibadan Magistrate Court, where they had been earlier arraigned. This, according to him, was in addition to an administrative bail they enjoyed after spending weeks in EFCC custody in Lagos.
Mr. Ogunwale then urged the court to grant the bail based on existing terms, assuring that the accused would present herself at trial.
But, Mr. Latona did not agree with the defense’s positions. The EFCC lawyer, who addressed all the applications one by one, said the fact that a court of lower jurisdiction had granted the accused bail was not enough to convince the higher court to exercise its discretion in their favour.
He also said the commission was opposed to the bail, to protect the accused persons from being harmed by the aggrieved pensioners affected by the alleged fraud.
Mr. Latona equally told the court that, apart from the health facilities available in prison, the state government had promised to provide health care services to the accused persons during the trial, when necessary.
The judge, after listening to the argument from all sides, adjourned to November 26 for ruling on the application.