A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, has ordered that the former Accountant General of the Federation, AGF, Ahmed Idris, and two others be remanded in prison custody pending the determination of their bail applications.
Justice Jadesola Adeyemi-Ajayi gave the order after Idris, Godfrey Olusegun Akindele, Mohammed Kudu Usman and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited pleaded not guilty to a 14-count charge in which they are accused of diverting about N109billion public funds.
In the charge marked: CR/299/2022 Akindele is described as the Technical Assistant to Idris, Usman is described as a director in the office of the Account General of the Federation, while Gezawa is said to be owned by Idris.
Upon their plea of not guilty, their lawyers – Chris Uche, SAN (for Idris and Gezawa), P. D. Abalaka (for Akindele), and J.A. Abbah (for Usman) – prayed the court to allow the defendants to remain on the administrative bail earlier granted them by the prosecuting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The defence lawyers said they have filed bail applications for their clients and urged the court to let the defendants remain on the administrative bail pending the determination of their bail applications.
Lead prosecuting lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) objected, insisting that he needed time to respond to the various bail applications, adding that the administrative bail lapsed immediately the charge was filed.
Jacobs noted that the court would be sending a wrong signal to society should it allow the defendants, who are people of means, to simply walk home after their arraignment, and before the consideration of their bail application.
He urged the court to note the amount involved and the gravity of the alleged offences
Ruling, Justice Adeyemi-Ajayi said the court is not a puppet that dances to public opinion and societal mood, but an institution guided solely by the dictates of the law.
She said it was appropriate to remand the defendants in prison custody pending the determination of their bail applications.
The judge rejected Uche’s request that the defendants be remanded in the custody of the EFCC in view of the recent attack on Kuje prison in Abuja and the condition of the nation’s detention facilities.
Justice Adeyemi-Ajayi noted that despite the unenviable condition of the prisona, they remain the available place to remand defendants for now.
She adjourned till July 27 for the hearing of the defendants’ bail applications. Some counts in the charge read:
*That you, Ahmed Idris between February and December, 2021, being a public servant by virtue of your position as the Accountant General of the Federation accepted from Olusegun Akindele, a gratification in the aggregate sum of N15,136,221,921.46 which sum was converted to the United States dollars by the said Olusegun Akindele and which sum did not form part of your lawful remuneration but as a motive for accelerating the payment of 13per-cent derivation to the nine (9) oil producing States in the Federation, through the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 155 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and punishable under the same section.
*That you, Ahmed Idris while being the Accountant General of the Federation and Godfrey Olusegun Akindele while being the Technical Assistant to the AG-F between February and November, 2021, in such capacity, entrusted with certain property, to wit: N84,390 billion committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property, when you dishonestly received the said sum from the Federal Government of Nigeria through Godfrey Olusegun Akindele trading under the name and style of Olusegun Akindele & Co., and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.
*That you, Mohammed Kudu Usman while being a director in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, sometime in 2020 knowingly acquired a private interest in the consultancy contract given to Olusegun Akindele & Co for the payment of the of 13 per-cent derivation to the nine (9) oil producing sates through the office of the AGF and in the office in which you were employed and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 12 of the Independent Corrupt and other related offences Commission Act 2000.
Source: The Nation