From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja
An Abuja Upper Area Court sitting in Gudu, on Monday, granted bail to a 50-year-old false whistle-blower, Ahmed Echodo, alleged to have misled the police to raid the official Guest House of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu in Maitama, Abuja.
He was granted bail in the sum of N500, 000.00 and a surety who must be someone of reasonable character and a resident of the Federal Capital Territory with verifiable address.
Before his release on bail, Echodo was remanded at Keffi prison by the court.
Delivering ruling on this bail application, the Chief Upper area Court Judge, Umar kagarko, held that the alleged offence was a bailable one.
He agreed with defence counsel, Peters Ugwuoke, who submitted that his client has reasonable sureties who are ready to stand for him and will neither jump bail nor interfere with investigation and trial.
Meantime, hearing in the case has been adjourned to the 20th of July 2017.
Men of the Police had on Friday May 27, raided the House in controversial circumstances.
They were said to have stormed and searched the building after which the took the steward, Mr Oliver Ogenyi, whom they met in the premises to the Inspector General of Police Special Square office in Guzape District, Abuja. He was later released.
Though the police had initially denied any involvement in the raid, the force however told the court that it was mislead by Ahmed Echodo and Maiwa Adamu (now at large) in carrying out the operation.
According to the First Information Report (F.I.R), Echodo who pleaded not guilty to the offence of criminal conspiracy and given false information to mislead public servant was said to have conspired with Maiwa Adamu (now at large) to commit the alleged crime.
The offence, according to the Prosecution Police officer, David Taiwo, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), is contrary to section 97(1) and 140 of the Penal Code Law.
The F.I.R reads; ” that on May 26, 2017, at about 0900hrs, you Ahmed Echodo ‘m’ aged 50 years of No. 44, Living Truth Street, Masaaka, Nassarawa state and one Maiwada Adamu now at large did conspired within yourself by informing the office of IGP, STS at Guzepe Area of the FCT, Abuja, that House No. 10 Games Street, Maitama, FCT, Abuja occupied by Oliver Ogenyi is being maintained and used for criminal activities including keeping of arms and ammunition. Unfortunately, after the police carried out diligence execution of the search warrant, no incriminating items were found therein. You by such action mislead the police and hereby committed the above offence.”
Meantime, the defendant caused a stir in court when asked by the Judge whether he understood the information against him.
Speaking from the accused box, Echodo challenged the police to produce either a written or oral information, he made to them that they claimed to be a false information.
“They (police) have not shown me how the information was passed to them by me. Was it oral or written? When they went to the house with Wada, (now at large), I was not there, ” Echodo fumed.
After his plea of not guilty was entered by the court, the prosecution counsel, Taiwo asked for an adjournment to enable him open his case against the defendant.
At this stage, counsel to the defendant, Peters Ugwuoke urged the court to release him on bail pending trial.
He premised his submissions on section 36(5) of the 1999 constitution and sections 198 and 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.
Ugwuoke submitted that his client has reasonable sureties who are ready to stand for him, will not jump bail and interfere with investigation or trial.
But in opposing the oral bail application, the prosecution counsel argued that there were no materials placed before the court to warrant it to exercise it’s discretion in favour of the defendant.
Besides, he submitted that the defendant ought to have deposed to an affidavit in making such submissions.
After taking arguments for and against the bail application, the Chief Upper area Court Judge, Umar kagarko directed that the defendant be remanded in prison custody pending the ruling of his application on June 5, 2017.
Ekweremadu had raised the alarm at the Senate plenary on May 3, 2017, when he referred his colleagues to anonymous letter to him alleging that there was a plan by the EFCC to raid buildings associated with him and plant incriminating items in it under the cover of whistle blower policy.
He further alleged that the proposed raid was to ensure his arrest, detention and indictment, with the aim of cut short his political career.
The Deputy Senate President alleged that the mission to move against him was being sponsored by a cabal in the Presidency.