Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Federal High Court sitting, in Abuja, on Monday, admitted to bail a former Chairman of the defunct Skye Bank, now Polaris Bank, Dr. Tunde Ayeni, and a former Managing Director of the bank, Timothy Oguntayo, who were docked before the Abuja division of the Federal High Court in Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over alleged money laundering offences.
They were, however, granted bail in the sum of N50 million each and two sureties.
This was after entering a plea of not guilty on a eight count money laundering charge involving N4.75 billion and $5 million.
The Prosecuting Counsel, Abba Mohammed, had prayed the court for a date to commence trial and asked that the defendants be remanded in prison custody pending commencement of trial.
However, Counsel to Ayeni and Oguntayo, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN and Tola Oshodi SAN, respectively, told the court that there were pending bail applications filed on behalf of their clients which had already been served on the prosecution.
Prosecution counsel however opposed the bail application.
At this point, the court noted the need for speedy trial as provided for by the Administrative of Criminal Justice Act.
He, however, asked the prosecution whether the offences to which the defendants were charged was bailable or not? The prosecution answered in the affirmative.
Justice Dimgba also asked whether the Prosecution would oppose the bail application? The Prosecution equally answered in the affirmative.
Finally, the court asked the Prosecution whether its concern for seeking opposition to admittance to bail not be addressed if the court impose a stringent bail condition. The Prosecution, however, answered that it has no reason to doubt the decision of the Court.
The court, at this point, asked parties to meet and agree on bail condition.
The matter was, however, stood down for 10 minutes.
When the parties came back, the Prosecution prayed the court to decide on the matter judicially and judiciously.
The trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, subsequently admitted the duo to bail in the sum of N50 million each and two sureties each in like sum.
The court had earlier noted the submission of the Defense counsel, that the Defendants were on administrative bail by the EFCC, and that they have been on their own keeping their dates with the anti-graft agency for over a year now.
Justice Dimgba in granting the bail gave the Defendants 36 hours to perfect the condition.
The court ordered that should any of the sureties be a civil servant, the person must be an Assistant Director and if a private citizen, the person must own landed property in Abuja or Lagos.
They are to present to the court evidence of ownership of such property.
The Court asked the Defendants to deposit their international passports with the Registry of the court and should not travel out of the country without the consent of the court.
He later adjourned till February 13 and 14 for commencement of trial.
Part of the charge reads in part:
*That you Mr. Tunde Ayeni whilst being the Chairman Board of Directors of Skye Bank Plc and Timothy Oguntayo whilst being the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Skye Bank between 2014 and 2015 conspired at different times to do on illegal act. to wit: caused cash delivery to you Ayeni of the sums of money totaling N4.75 billion and $5 million belonging to Skye Bank Plc contrary to the provisions of Section 1(a) of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as Amended) read together with section 18(a)of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as Amended) and punishable under Section 16(2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as Amended).
*That you Dr. Tunde Ayeni whilst being the Chairman, Board of Directors of Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank Plc) on or about the 23″ January, 2014 at Abuja within the Abuja Judicial Division of this Honourable Court did accept cash payment in the sum of N1, 000,000,00000 (One Billion Naira ) from staff of Skye Bank Plc being money belonging to Skye Bank Plc, contrary to the provisions of section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as Amended) and punishable under section 16(1)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as Amended) read together with section 16(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as Amended).