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Eight ex-bank chiefs get N2.4bn bail

By Innocent Anaba & Emma Ovuakporie
LAGOS — FORMER Managing Director of FinBank Nigeria Plc, Mr Okey Nwosu and seven former non-executive members of Intercontinental Bank Plc who are facing trial for alleged banking related offences were, Tuesday,  admitted to bail by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos just as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it has recovered N87 billion so far from bank debtors.

However, Mrs Cecilia Ibru, Mr Bartholomew Ebong, Mr Sebastian Adigwe and three others who were granted bail, Monday, by the Court were yet to meet their bail conditions at press time yesterday.

The non-executive members of Intercontinental Bank Plc are  Dr. Raymond Obieri, Engr. Hynacinth Enuha, Christopher Alabi, Chief Samuel Adegbite, Alhaji Isyaku Umar, Mr. Bayo Dada and Elder Sanni Adams,
Nwosu and others, who are standing trial before the court on separate charges bordering on economic sabotage and threats to the economic health of the nation and fraud, concealment and grant of loans without adequate collateral, running into billions of naira, were each admitted to bail in the sum of N100 million and two sureties in like sum.

TRIAL: Mr Christopher Adegbite and  Alhaji Isyaku Umar, former Directors of Intercontinental Bank Plc during the trial of bank execitives in Lagos, yesterday. Photo by BiodunOgunleye.
TRIAL: Mr Christopher Adegbite and Alhaji Isyaku Umar, former Directors of Intercontinental Bank Plc during the trial of bank execitives in Lagos, yesterday. Photo by BiodunOgunleye.

Trial judge in the matter, Justice Dan Abutu, in his ruling on the bail applications of the accused persons, further ordered that they (accused persons) must not travel outside the country during the pendency of the charge, while they are to report to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abuja office, every first working day of every month.

The court further ordered that the sureties must be resident in Lagos or Abuja, and “must be Chairman of any financial institution; Chairman of Board of Directors of an oil company or oil producing company, or a company with assets base of not less than N1 billion and it must be reflected in the 2008 Annual Report of the company, or a member of Senate or former Senator or member of House of Representatives or a former member of House of Representatives”.

According to the court, the sureties must own landed property in Lekki, Victoria Island or Ikoyi, all in Lagos or Maitama, Asokoro or Garki, in Abuja.

The court further ordered that the EFCC should verify the addresses of the sureties and other documents submitted by the sureties, while the commission was given 48 hours to complete the verification of the documents, once they are tendered.

The accused persons were admitted to bail on the same conditions as Mrs. Cecilia Ibru,  Mr. Sebastian Adigwe, Mr. Bartholomew Ebong and three others, who were granted bail on Monday. The court had also adjourned further hearing in Ebong’s case till November 23 and 24, 2009; and that of Mrs  Ibru, to November 25, while Adigwe’s case, was adjourned to November 26.

Justice Abutu in admitting Nwosu and others to bail, held that the suspects were granted bail because the offences for which they were arraigned, are bailable and that there was no evidence to prove that the accused persons would impede the investigations of the charges preferred against them, “since the EFCC had concluded investigations on their cases”.

Mr Okey Nwosu,Former FinBank Nigeria Plc being excorted by EFCC and Policeman at the court premises
Mr Okey Nwosu,Former FinBank Nigeria Plc being excorted by EFCC and Policeman at the court premises

Meanwhile, further hearing in Nwosu’s charge was adjourned till November 30, while that of the Intercontinental Bank Plc non-executive directors, was adjourned till December 1, 2009.

At the court yesterday, Counsel to some of the accused persons, who have been admitted to bail were seen making frantic efforts to meet the bail conditions.

A lawyer to one of the bank chiefs, accosted by newsmen at the premises of the court and asked of the progress made by his client to meet the bail conditions declined comment. But later on, the said lawyer was seen shuttling between the court room of Justice Abutu and the Registry of the court.

EFCC recovers N87bn

Meanwhile the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has recovered N87,045,603,547.96 billion from debtors owing the five ailing banks as the Chief Executive Officers and directors arrested by the anti-graft agency remained in detention despite the fact that the court granted their bail applications.

A source close to the commission revealed that as at 4pm yesterday none of the detainees had mustered enough connections to meet the bail conditions given by the court.

It was also gathered that the case may be given accelerated hearing because of the stiff conditions particularly the condition that stipulates that they should not travel until the case has been concluded by the court.

The source also explained that so far, the 205 debtors had been responding positively towards repaying the loans obtained “and those that had defaulted are already in court or in detention, any defaulter would face the same fate with the likes of Peter Ololo and co.”

According to the source, “Our operatives are still in Lagos monitoring the debtors and payments made to the banks in different locations and this will continue until we recover a substantial part of the loans.”

When contacted, Head, Media and Publicity, of the anti-graft body Mr Femi Babafemi, confirmed that the agency had made “a very reasonable recovery and more recoveries are being made on a daily basis”.


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