A Federal High Court on Tuesday granted bail to a former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye on self-recognition.
But the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, granted bail to Oronsaye’s co-accused, Osarenkhoe Afe, in the sum of N50m with two sureties, one of whom must not be less than Grade Level 16 in either federal or state government establishments.
The judge also ruled that one of Afe’s sureties must have property worth N75m within Abuja.
He ordered that both Oronsaye and Afe must deposit their passports and other travel documents with the court registrar.
Justice Kolawole ordered that in the event that the accused persons were unable to meet the bail conditions within one week, they should be re-arrested and remanded in Kuje prison in Abuja.
Afe is the Managing Director of Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Limited, a company named as the third accused in the 24 counts preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The EFCC is prosecuting the accused persons for allegedly defrauding the Federal Government to the tune of N118,992,201.6, under the guise of paying the money in tranches for the contract of biometric data capture project between March 2010 and December 2011.
The fraud was allegedly perpetrated through awarding and payment for phoney contracts to nine companies including Innovative Solutions, Fredrick Hamilton Global Serices, Xangee Technologies Limited, Fatideck Ventures, Obalando Nigeria Enterprises, Moshfad Enterprises and Fesbee Global Resources Limited.
Other companies through which the accused persons allegedly siphoned the money from the Federal Government were Jolance Integrated Concept Limited and M.OF Investment Limited.
There were new twists to the trial on Tuesday, as Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, sent a lawyer, Esther Uzoma, to court on Tuesday to debunk the allegation that he was at large.
Tuesday’s proceedings before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court in Abuja were scheduled for the hearing of the bail applications filed by Oronsaye and other accused persons.
Maina is not named as an accused person in the case, but his name appears in many of the 24 counts preferred against the accused persons as an accomplice who is on the run.
Uzoma said it was unfair to describe her client as being at large when he was never invited by the EFCC since 2011 when the anti-graft agency started taking statements from people concerned.
“No single invitation since 2011, yet they said he is at large. That is unfair,” Uzoma said.
But the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, insisted that Maina had been at large.
“It is a good development. He (Maina) has not retired but he is not at his offices. He has been in Dubai,” he said.
Jacobs urged the judge to extract an undertaking from Uzoma to the effect that she would produce her client in court.
Though Uzoma agreed to accept service for the charges on behalf of her client, she insisted that the EFCC should follow the rules of the court on how to bring PRTT boss to court.
On the bail applications filed by Oronsaye and the other accused person, Jacobs said he was not willing to oppose the applications since the court had earlier, on July 13 after the accused persons’ arraignment, released them to their lawyers upon an undertaking that they would be produced in court on Tuesday.
He, however, opposed the request by the defence lawyers, Kanu Agabi (SAN) and Oluwole Aladedoye, that the accused persons should be granted bail based on self-recognition.
Jacobs insisted that the court should impose conditions that would ensure the accused persons’ attendance in court for their trial.