The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arraigned two former staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in court for alleged misappropriation of N731million.
The two former staff Christian Nwosu and Tijani Nda Bashir were arraigned in an Ilorin state High Court.
The commission accused the defendants on seven count charge which bordered on criminal breach of trust and theft.
In the charge file number KWS/19c/2018, counsel to the EFCC Rotimi Oyedepo said that the offences were committed between 2013 and 2015 whilst the accused were in the employment of INEC in Kwara state.
According to the charge: “That the defendants on the 27th of February, 2013 in Ilorin within the jurisdiction of the court whilst in the employment of INEC agreed amongst yourselves to carry out an illegal acts in respect of sum of N731 million entrusted to you in your capacity as public officers contrary to the provisions of Section 97 of the Penal Code; that the two of you on March 31st, 2014 agreed among yourselves to carry out acts of criminal breach of trust in respect of N77 million entrusted to you in your capacity as public officers; that on May 21st, 2014 while in the employment of INEC agreed to carry out illegal acts in respect of the sum of N9.6 million
entrusted to you in your capacity as public officer and that you Tijani Nda Bashir on 31st March 2014 and March 4th, 2015 committed breach of trust in respect of N26.5 million entrusted to you in your capacity as a public officer contrary to and punishable under section 315 of the Penal Code.”
Mr. Oyedepo added that “the synopsis of all that we have said is to show the court the grounds of proferring criminal charges, criminal breach of trust and theft against the defendants.”
The EFCC counsel then urged the court to grant his application in the interest of justice.
When the charges were read to the hearing of the accused persons they pleaded not guilty to the offences.
Having pleaded not guilty to the offences Mr. Oyedepo urged the court to give the case accelerated hearing pursuant to Section 19 sub-section 2b of EFCC Act.
He added that “in view of the defendants pleas they have deemed to have put themselves for trial.”
He also urged the court to avail his team convenient time to assemble “our witnesses, praying the court to remand the accused in prison custody pending the hearing and determination of the case.
But counsel to both defendants, Obinna Okereke and Nelson Imo opposed the application seeking to remand the defendants in prison custody.
Both sought the constitutional powers of the court to grant the clients bail, arguing that the offences committed were bailable.
Both Mr. Okereke and Imo opted to oral application praying that the court “to admit them to bail on liberal terms of sefl-recognisance.
Okereke averred that the “court is conferred with constitutional and statutory powers to judicially and judiciously exercise its discretion.”
After listening to the parties’ arguments and counter arguments, Presiding Judge Sikiru Oyinloye in his ruling said “it is my considered position that bail can be granted even though a prima-facie has been established against the defendants, I thereby admit them to bail of N50 million each in like sum.
Justice Oyinloye added that the defendants must produce two sureties each and that each of the sureties must landed property within the jurisdiction.
He added that the defendants should also provide their photographs with that of their sureties, ordering the defendants to deposit their international passports with the Chief Registrar of the Kwara state High Court.
He added that the bail could be revoked if any of the accused persons failed to appear in court during trial.
However, pending the perfection of the bail conditions, Justice Oyinloye ordered that the defendants be remanded in Mandala prison.
He then adjourned the case to April 26th and 27th for the commencement of trail.
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