From: Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, has ordered that five persons indicted by the Justice Elizabeth Kpojime Commission of Inquiry be remanded at the Makurdi prison till Thursday, October 19, when their bail application would be considered and determined.
The remanded persons included the member representing Logo State Constituency in the Benue State House of Assembly, Kester Kyenge, Mr. David Sev-Av, Mr. Andrew Ayande, Mr. Terfa Bosua and Mr. Alex Ogaba.
Justice Joseph Aneke gave the order while ruling on a bail application brought before him by counsel to the accused, Mr. Andrew Wombo, on Friday, praying the court to grant his clients bail using its discretion.
Earlier, prosecution counsel, Kehinde Fagbemi, had told the court that the accused persons were standing trial on corruption charges bordering on money laundering.
When the defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges brought against them, the prosecution counsel applied for a date to open her case against the defendants, even as she prayed the court to remand them in prison custody pending a date to be fixed for continuation of the matter.
But in his argument on a bail application brought by the defense counsel, the prosecution counsel asked the court to use its discretion in considering the application.
Counsel to the defendants, Andrew Wombo, did not object to the application by prosecution counsel seeking for a date to open her case against the defendants, but swiftly objected to the prayer to remand them in prison custody, stressing that they had been on administrative bail since 2016 and had not jumped their bail conditions.
He prayed the court to consider the bail application especially as the accused persons had sworn through various affidavits that they would not breach the bail conditions.
In his ruling, Justice Joseph Aneke who faulted the bail application brought by the defense counsel however advised him to go back and look at it carefully in order not to jeopardise the integrity of the court.
The accused persons, it could be recalled, were among the 52 persons indicted by the Justice Kpojime Commission of Inquiry that probed incomes and expenditures of the Suswam-led administration from May 30th, 2007 to May 30, 2015.