By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, refused to grant bail to the former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Security, Minting and Printing Company, NSMPC, Mr. Ehidiamhen Okoyomon.
In a ruling, the appellate court held that Okoyomon should remain in prison custody until the appeal he filed against his planned extradition to the United Kingdom is determined.
The ex-Mint boss, who has already spent six months at Kuje Prison in Abuja, approached the appellate court, begging it to consider his “deteriorating health condition” and okay his release on bail.
He told the court that he has health challenge that would require serious medical attention, a service he said would be impossible for him to obtain from prison.
However, dismissing Okoyomon’s application as lacking in merit, the court held that there was no circumstantial reason for it to release him on bail.
Justice Mohammed Mustapha, who delivered the ruling, maintained that the issue of poor health canvassed by Okoyomon as the reason he re-applied for bail, was not sufficient enough.
The court held that it was the duty of the Nigerian Prisons Service to not only keep a detainee, but to also cater for his medical attention as well as feeding.
He said: “Being sick is never an excuse for bail because the prison is not only to keep detainees, but to cater for their health, and every detainee must be treated whenever such detainee is sick.
“Let me say here that the court must not encourage prison to be derelict in its duties of providing medical care for inmates whenever the inmates are sick, except on special ground where medical facilities to treat a special ailment is not available.”
He, therefore, directed the former Mint boss to channel his medical needs to the Prison authorities, pending when his matter is decided.
The ruling yesterday, made it the second time the court has turned down Okoyomon’s bail requests.
Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja had on May 4, ordered that Okoyomon be extradited to the UK to face corruption charges.
The court order followed an application by the Federal Government.
The Federal Government. made the application pursuant to provisions of Section 6(1) of the Extradition Act 2004 Cap E, R5 and in accordance with Section 215 (1) paragraph (i) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The then Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, told the court that the ex-Mint boss was needed in the UK over his alleged role in a bribery scandal involving officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the NSMPC and Securency International Pty of Australia.