Tony Osauzo, Benin
Controversy is trailing the bail granted Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the last gubernatorial election in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and the State chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, and three others, with the PDP accusing the Edo State government of refusing to sign all documents for the party leaders bail, for obvious political differences.
The Federal High Court had Thursday granted the accused persons bail after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), arraigned them on an eight-count charges of laundering the sum of N700 million.
The court granted the five accused person bail of N10 million each, with sureties in like sum, who must be a Civil Servant not below grade level 16 and must be house owner, with Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) that should be deposited with the court’s deputy registrar.
Following their inability to fulfil the bail condition, the accused persons were ordered to be remanded at the Benin Prison along Sapele Road, by the presiding Judge, Justice P.I Adjokwu.
At press time yesterday, the accused persons, including a former Deputy Governor, Mr. Lucky Imasuen, who was former member of the PDP but defected to the APC; a former member of the House of Representatives, Tony Azegbemi and Efe Anthony, were yet to be released from prison.
In the suit, the EFCC alleged that the accused persons receiving N700 million prior to the 2015 general elections from former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
According to the anti-graft agency, the money was part of the $115 million that Diezani allegedly pilfered from government coffers and the offence contravened Section 15(2)(d)of the Money Laundering (Prohibited) Act 2011(as amended by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) punishable under section 15(3) of same Act.
Meanwhile, the Edo State chapter of the PDP yesterday alleged that “on the instruction of Governor Godwin Obaseki, all the documents relating to the verification were locked up in the office of the state Commissioner for Lands.
“This obvious action to deny us Justice is malicious and an infantile and irresponsible political vendetta.
“We condemn Edo State government decision to play politics with peoples rights.
“We want to assure all our party members that our leaders in this unjust captivity are in good spirits. They urge you to remain steadfast and committed to the just course of mobilising to vote out APC in the next coming elections.
“As it is becoming obvious that they will not do the needful, they have elected to sign only that of Chief Lucky Imasuen because of his current membership of APC. Lucky Imasuen has insisted that his own cannot be separated from the rest of those charged with him.
“APC should fight corruption and Not Opposition”, the statement signed by party, State Publicity Secretary, Chris Nehikhare, said.
But in a swift reaction, the Special Adviser to Governor Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said the governor was too busy developing Edo to be interested in the criminal prosecution of PDP Members
“The disingenuous and irresponsible move by the Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chris Nehikhare, to unjustly pass the blame for the predicament of the PDP leaders who are being tried for fraud has caught our attention and we by this medium condemn his action in the strongest possible terms.
“We are very aware that it is in the character of members of Edo PDP to live in denial and blame others when they confront the nemesis of their own actions.
“We, however, want to advise them that for once, they should take responsibility for their actions and direct their energy towards soul searching and character reforms.
“We wish to place on record that Governor Godwin Obaseki, is too busy transforming the fortunes of Edo people destroyed by the PDP, to be interested in their travail with the law.
“For the past 72 hours, Governor Obaseki has hardly had up to six hours of sleep, from organising a Technical Roundtable on Managing Migration in Nigeria through Development Transformation Programme, in collaboration with the European Union, United Nations and other stakeholders, as well as signing the Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law 2018, the governor has received a high-powered delegation of the World Bank and held marathon meetings with two federal ministers on how to add more value to the lives of Edo people.
“The present predicament of the embattled leaders of the dying Edo PDP, is the least of Obaseki’s worries at the moment.
“We advise them to follow the due process in fulfilling the bail conditions of their members and wish them the best in their date with justice”, Osagie advised.