Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Dr. Ishaq Moddibbo Kawu, has been docked over alleged misapplication of the N2.5billion seed grant for Digital Switch-Over (DSO) programme of the Federal Government.
Others arraigned with Kawu were the Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Limited, Mr. Lucky Omoluwa, and the Chief Operating Officer of the same company, Mr. Onifade.
They were, however, granted bail in the sum of N100m each and two sureties each in the like sum after entering a plea of not guilty to all the 12-counts charge brought against them by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The matter has been adjourned to today, May 3, for trial.
Justice Folasade Ogunbanjo Giwa, who admitted them to bail, however, gave them 10 days within which to perfect the conditions attached to their bail or risk being remanded to prison.
While ruling on their bail applications, Giwa said she was admitting them on bail based on the provisions of sections 35 and 36 of the 1999 constitution which presumed the defendants innocent of the alleged offences until proven otherwise.
She further relied on sections 158, 159 and 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
Giwa said two of the sureties must be federal civil servants not below the rank of Grade level 17 who must show evidence of tax payment within three years period.
One of the sureties must reside within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with landed property and must deposed to an affidavit of means.
In addition, the court directed the prosecution to verify the addresses of the sureties.
On the part of the defendants, the court barred them from travelling out of the country without obtaining the permission of the court.
Giwa also ordered them to deposit their international passports with the Director of litigation of the Federal High Court. Abuja.
The judge said in the event the defendants are unable to meet up with their bail conditions within 10 working days, they should be taken into prison until the conditions are met.
After the charge had been read to them by a clerk of the court, the prosecution counsel, Henry Emore applied for the commencement of trial.
But counsel to the defendants, Abubakar Mustapha, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN) and A.V. Etuwewe, all moved applications for the bail of the defendants.
While Mustapha appeared for Ishag Modibbo, Dr. Izinyon appeared for Dipo Onifade and Sir Lucky Omoluwa, Etuwewe appeared for Pinnacle Communications Ltd.
They urged the court to admit their clients to bail pending trial, as the alleged offences are ordinary bailable in nature.
Although the prosecution counsel, Emore had opposed the bail applications filed by Modibbo Kawu and Omoluwa on the grounds that they breached their administrative bail, the court nevertheless granted them bail.
Kawu and his codefendants are facing a 12-count charge bordering on abuse of office, money laundering and misleading a public officer with the intent to defraud the federal government, in contravention of Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.