From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The embattled ex-Anambra State guber aspirant, Walter Okeke, detained for over a month in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, over alleged theft of oil drilling equipment worth over N800 million, has been granted bail in the sum of N100 million.
Okeke hails from Enugwu village of Nanka in Orumba North Local Government Area but lives in his own compound at the Trans-Amadi area of Port Harcourt, where the complainant, Ifeanyi Amaonye, allegedly stocked the oil drilling pipes and other heavy industrial equipment.
Chief Magistrate A.O. Amadi Nna, granted him bail on Monday, with two sureties of the same amount.
Other bail conditions included that the surety must be up to Grade Level 14 in the Rivers State Civil Service, who must have landed property within the court’s jurisdiction. The property documents must be verified by the prosecution.
When the matter was called up on Monday, the Chief Magistrate ruled on the application for bail and the objection raised by the prosecution led by Godday Amadi and granted the accused bail with a surety with the like sum of N100 million.
Also, an affidavit of means from a Grade Level 14 officer of the Rivers State Ministry must be deposited (original copy) with the original copy of his appointment letter with the court.
Each of the parties must deposit two of their passports and an affidavit of means which must be present and available.
Speaking with newsmen after the case, counsel for the defendant, Oluchukwu Ulasi, expressed gratitude for the bail granted and said they would go about perfecting it.
He, however, observed that the bench warrant against his client had been vacated since December 13, 2022.
He said: “What happened today was that you recall that on December 13, 2022, the defendant took a plea and, thereafter, we applied for his bail and the court adjourned the proceedings of the ruling on respect of our bail application to today (Monday).
“So this morning, the court delivered that ruling, granting the defendant bail and with conditions, you must have heard from the court. So, by the grace of God, we are grateful to the court for granting him bail because he’s been in the custody since November 15, 2022. So, all things being equal, we’ll try and see how we can meet those conditions.
“The issue of his bench warrant was all over the place. You will recall that the court on October 31, 2022, issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the defendant. That bench warrant order was vacated at the proceedings of December 13, 2022. In other words, there’s no pending order for the arrest of the defendant.”
The case had erupted when the businessman, Amaonye, the police in Port Harcourt, dragged Okeke to the Chief Magistrate’s Court for alleged theft.
The charge sheet filed on May 27, 2022, stated that; “You, Walter Ubaka Okeke, and others now at large, did conspire to commit felony to wit: stealing; and, therefore, committed an offence punishable under Section 516A of the Criminal Code Law Cap 37 Vol. 2, Laws of Rivers State”.
The second count mentioned the value of the alleged stolen property to be over N800 million, items said to be the property of a Port Harcourt businessman, Mr Ifeanyi Amaonye, kept in the open at the accused’s compound in Trans-Amadi.