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N2.5bn FRAUD: Court remands Bayelsa commissioner, gets bail

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJA—A FEDERAL High court sitting in Abuja, Tuesday, sent the Bayelsa State Finance Commissioner, Dr. Charles Osuala, to Kuje prisons.

That was after the trial high court judge who issued the remand order against Osuala said that his refusal to honour the invitation by EFCC over involvement in N2.5billion fraud amounted to a gross insubordination and was itself a criminal offence.

The trial high court judge, Justice David Okoronkwo, ordered the remand of the Finance Commissioner after admitting him to bail in the sum of N100million with two sureties in like sum.

Justice Okoronkwo said the commissioner must be remanded in the prison custody until he fully met a number of conditions. The conditions include production of two sureties who must be Federal civil servants not below the rank of director, with one of them being an owner of landed property in Abuja which certificate of occupancy must be verified from the AEGIS and deposited with the registrar of the court.

Conditionality for sureties

Other conditions include that the sureties must deposit their passport photographs with the registrar of the court while the accused person himself must surrender his travelling documents to the court.

Osuala is facing trial over alleged conspiracy with three others and stealing of N2.5billion belonging to the state government.

Only his three alleged accomplices, were arraigned by EFCC while Osuala was nowhere to be found.

He was to be declared wanted when his counsel, Mr. S. I. Ameh, SAN, wrote a letter to the Chambers of Mr. Festus Keyamo who is prosecuting them on behalf of EFCC, that he was not at large but that there was an arrangement that all the accused persons should not honour the invitation of the anti-graft agency same time so that governance in Bayelsa would not be brought to a halt.

The three others include the Bayelsa State Accountant-General, Mr. Francis Okokuro, Bayelsa State Director of Treasury at the Government House, Mr. Abot Clinton and the Director of Finance, Mr. Anthony Howells

The trio were also arraigned afresh, yesterday, but the court renewed the earlier bail conditions granted them.

The said conditions, already met, included that each of the accused persons must produce one surety each who must not be lower in rank than assistant director in Federal Civil Service and that the said civil servant must own landed property in Abuja.

Besides, the high court judge ordered that the civil servant surety who is willing to guarantee the accused persons must deposit two of his recent passport photographs with the court and depose to an affidavit of means.

The court also ordered that the surety must not be okayed until he had collected a letter from the accused person’s counsel introducing him.

Determination of substantive suit

Justice Okoronkwo added that each of the accused persons must deposit their international passports with the court to prevent them from travelling out of the country without court’s permission pending the hearing and determination of the substantive case.

Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, is prosecuting the accused persons on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, but the charge was prepared and signed by Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, a Chief Legal Officer with the EFCC.
The accused persons were alleged to have breached certain provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act,) 2004.


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