By Lucky Fiakpa
The three Oceanic Bank employeesÂ that have been in police custody since May 28, 2009 were on Friday granted bail by a Yaba Chief Magistrateâ€™s Court in Lagos.
The three accused â€“ Dacosta Adebayo, 30; Alao Saheed, 33; and George Ihyawoh, 26 â€“ were alleged to have stolen N24 million, property of the bank.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge of conspiracy and stealing and were subsequently granted bail in the sum of N1 million each with two sureties in the sum of N500,000 by the Chief Magistrate, Mrs. Christiana Adesola-Ikpatt.
In addition, one of the two sureties is to deposit N100,000 into the courtâ€™s account as part of the bail conditions.
The defendantsâ€™ counsel, Mr Gbenga Olugbake had earlier urged the court to grant them bail on liberal conditions. He told the court that the money in question had been recovered by the police, adding that the people involved in the crime were still at large.
He said that the defendants had been in police custody since May 28 and promised that they would not jump bail.
The prosecutor, ASP Okoronkwo Okorie accused the defendants of colluding with some people to defraud the bank. According to him, the defendants operated 435 accounts in different banks across the state and usually divert deposits from customers to their accounts.
Okorie said that the accused and their accomplices, who operated like a syndicate, committed the offence on May 23 at the bankâ€™s branch located on the Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway.
He said their accomplices, now at large, used the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card to withdraw the monies diverted to the various accounts, contrary to Sections 516 and 390 (9) of the Criminal Code.
The prosecutor disclosed that the accused might be sentenced to seven years imprisonment on conviction.
The case has been adjourned till July 21 for further hearing.