By Abdulwahab Abdulah
LAGOS â€” THERE are indications that convicted Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Chief Bode George and five other members of the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, which he led, will spend the weekend in jail, despiteÂ Justice Joseph Oyewoleâ€™s readiness to hear their motion for bail pending the appeal.
Already, Justice Oyewole has fixed today for hearing in their motion for bail, but Vanguard gathered that in spite of that, it is not likely that they will be released until next week, even if the court accedes to their prayers.
Chief George was, on Monday, convicted for abuse of office alongside former Managing Director of the NPA, Architect Aminu Dabo; Captain Olusegun Abidoye; Alhaji Aminu Tafida; Alhaji Zanna Maideribe and Alhai Sule Aliyu.
It was not clear at press time whether their lawyers have served the motion on the respondent, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which will also respond to issues raised in the motion for the bail pending appeal.
Vanguard reliably gathered that the convictsâ€™ lawyers have filed the motion for bail pending the determination of their appeal.
Part of their grounds for asking the lower court to grant them temporary relief from custody, pending their appeal, was that the court, in its judgment, determined issues not canvassed before it in its decision to jail them.
For instance, they argued that the court ruled in favour of the prosecution on issues relating to traveling abroad.
Also, they believe that the lower court failed to consider the fact that some of the contentious contracts for which they were convicted were awarded before the circular limiting the cost of contract that can be awarded by the Board of the NPA.
They further argued that in spite of the courtâ€™s verdict finding them guilty of the offences leveled against them, there was no evidence before the court that they either stole public fund or acted in a way to enrich themselves.
As regard the sentence, especially on their imprisonment without an option of fine, they argued that it was too harsh and unknown to law.
Meanwhile, the Kirikiri prison authority has ruled out the possibility of moving the convicts out of Lagos as speculated.
In a telephone interview with Vanguard, the Lagos Public Relations Officer (PRO) for prisons, Mr. Ope Fanimokun said for now there was no truth that Chief Bode George and others will be transferred to other prisons outside the state.
According to him, â€œthere is no reason to justify their movement out of Lagos. There is nothing like moving them out of Lagos. It is the prisonâ€™s authorities that can decide on whether to move any inmate out of jurisdiction. Nobody can decide for us. If such a thing will happen, there must be some precarious factors that would necessitate this,â€ he said.
However, it was gathered that Chief George and those convicted with him have refused prison food while their families prepare their foods from home.