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N5.2bn scam : Court remands Ugbane, 8 others in custody

*To rule on fresh bail application today

By Ise-Oluwa Ige

ABUJA—A Federal high court sitting in Abuja yesterday ordered the remand of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Senator Nicholas Ugbane and eight others in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The trial high court judge, Justice Garba Umar issued the order yesterday after adjourning till this morning a composite ruling on fresh bail applications filed and argued on their behalf by their lawyers with respect to a fresh 135 count charge of fraud preferred against them.

The EFCC, it would be recalled, had slammed a 156-count charge of fraud against the accused persons last year.
But the anti-graft agency which could not proceed with the case following the inability of one of them jointly charged to attend his trial, Paulinus Igwe, made it to amend the charge by delisting the name of the affected accused person and reduced the charge from 156 to 135 counts. Their pleas were taken afresh yesterday on the amended charge.

They all pleaded not guilty. But they were not too lucky yesterday as they temporarily lost their freedom.
Although  Justice Umar said he would have loved to deliver a bench ruling yesterday to enable them know their fate more so, when the prosecution was not opposing their separate bail applications, he said the volumes of written briefs they filed and adopted with respect to the application and the need to take the plea of another 27 persons suspected to have participated in the recent Jos carnage would not allow him.

He said that instead of sending them to prison, the judge said he would remand them in the custody of the EFCC till this morning when they would come for the ruling.


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