From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will, today, rule on the bail application filed by the former Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris.
Justice Adeyemi Ajayi fixed the date after taking arguments canvassed for and against the bail application by counsel to both parties.
Ahmed is currently in Kuje Correctional Centre on remand, following his arraignment on a 14-count charge preferred against him and three others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He is standing trial over his alleged complicity in the illegal diversion of public funds, to the tune of about N109.4 billion. Others standing trial with him are: Godfrey Olusegun Akindele, Mohammed Kudu Usman and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited.
After taking a plea of not guilty to the charges, the defendants are urging the court to release them on bail pending the determination of the case against them. In his submissions, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, counsel to the ex-AGF, assured the court that his client would be available to face the charges against him.
He urged the court to take into cognisance the fact that his client, who was on the administrative bail by the EFCC, flew into Abuja from Kano state immediately he was notified about his arraignment.
Both Peter Abalaka and Mohammed Ndayako, SAN, who appeared for the second and third defendants, equally urged the court to admit their clients on bail, pledging their availability for trial.
The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, in his counter affidavit, urged the court to discountenance the submissions of the defence counsel and reject the bail application.
In urging the court to consider the nature and gravity of the charge, Jacobs submitted the cogency of the proof of evidence against the defendants, as well as the severity of the punishment upon their conviction. He argued that contrary to the position of the defendants, the charge of criminal breach of trust against the defendants would attract 14 years imprisonment.
“My lord, this is a very serious case. How can anyone look at the magnitude of this case and say it is just seven years? EFCC would not have released these men on administrative bail like that, but it was regulated by an order from the Magistrate Court.”
He argued that the temptation for the defendants to jump bail has become stronger, in view of “the weighty nature of the case against them.”
The commission has disclosed that a Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Ahmed, whose name was originally included in count-11 of the charge, would appear as one of its witnesses in the matter.
Jacobs explained that it was based on Ahmed’s decision to appear before the court, to blow the lid on some of the alleged financial malfeasance the ex-AGF was involved in, that his name was delisted from the charge.