Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
A Federal High Court sitting in Sokoto on Thursday has granted bail to a former deputy governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Mukhtar Shagari, and four others to the sum of N25 million each.
Also granted bail were Senator Abdallah Wali, a PDP governorship candidate in 2015, Alhaji Ibrahim Gidado, a former commissioner, Alhaji Ibrahim Milgoma, PDP State Chairman and Treasurer of the party, Alhaji Nusiru Bafarawa.
All were charged on Monday on five counts for receiving the sum of N500 million alleged to have been graft from former minister of petroleum, Diezani Alison Madueke.
Ruling on the bail applications, Justice Idrissa Sale Kogo attached the bail condition two sureties in like sum who must be civil servants of grade level 13, and residing within the jurisdiction of the court.
The Judge ordered that the defendants must deposit their international passports in the court while such sureties must have property worth the sum, and must depose to an affidavit before the court.
Giving reasons for the ruling, Justice Kogo said all submissions and applications have been reviewed and the five-count charges are allegations bordering on illegal financial transaction and money laundering, which are bailable offences.
According to the judge, “Bails are granted for all offenses, except capital offences such as murder, kidnapping, among others. It is clear from the above that all the allegations deal with financial transactions which is centered on N500 million. I am going to abide by the law because the right for bail is a constitutional matter and right.
“In the case of Asari Dokubo vs FGN on nature of granting bail which have satisfied the guidelines of the court, since there is no evidence that the accused persons will jump bail based on several applications undertaken by the defendants that they will not jump bail if granted one.”
He, however, ordered that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody pending the time they will fulfill their bail conditions, and adjourned hearing to July 5 for continuation of the case.
Earlier, counsel to Gidado, Milgoma and Bafarawa, Barrister Ibrahim Abdullahi, had pleaded with the court to grant bail to the defendants based on the affidavits and written addresses already submitted before the court dated 21 May, 2018.
He urged the court not to exercise strict conditions in granting the accused persons bail, noting that the defendants are still presumed innocent until the court say otherwise. He cited sections 35, 36 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to support his submissions.
The counsel further reminded the court that the accused persons have been granted administrative bails since 2016 by EFCC, saying “a non strict bail condition for the accused persons is in the interest of justice.”
On his part, counsel to Mukhtar Shagari, Barrister Ibrahim Idris, admitted that the prerogative to grant any accused person bail solely lies with the court, noting that the court can only decline bail if the accused persons were charged in relation to section 162, sub a-f of ACJA.
He submitted that the gravity of the offence alleged to have committed does not stop the court in its bail consideration.
Also, counsel to Abdallah Wali, Barrister M. A. Abdulkadir, allied with various submissions made by other counsels.
In his objection, the prosecution counsel on behalf of EFCC, Barrister Taoufik Lasisi, drew the attention of the court to a counter affidavit sworn and deposed by one Waziri Adamu on each applications in regard to the five defendants.
He urged the court to refuse the defendants’ applications and order the accelerated hearing of the case.
According to him, “In the event the applications were granted, we urged the court to impose such conditions and terms that would ensure the defendants appear for their trials in court.
“Also, for the second defendant (Shagari), we are opposed to his bail application and already filed an eight paragraph counter affidavit deposed by Waziri Adamu. In complying with the rules, we have also filled the counter written address. Based on this, we urged the court not to grant bail to the accused person.”
Lasisi argued that most of the submissions made by the defendants’ counsels are not relevant to the issue at stake.
“We urge the court to refuse this applications and order for a speedy trial of the defendants,” he pleaded.
After the submissions, the judge moved for the case to stand down for a few hours before he delivered his ruling.