As court fixes Feb 16 for trial
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, granted bail to the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Haliru Bello and his son, Abba, to the tune of N600 million.
In a ruling, yesterday, Justice Ahmed Mohammed ordered the duo to pay N300 million each as well as produce two sureties each, in like sum.
While the court stressed that one of the persons to stand surety for Bello must be a Director under the employment of the Federal Government or any of its agencies, it ordered his son to produce someone not below Grade Level 12 to stand as his surety.
The court maintained that the second surety for each of the accused persons must be an owner of landed property in Abuja, the value of which must not be below N300 million, adding that the title deed of such property must be verified and surrendered to the court registrar throughout the trial.
Both sureties are required to swear to an affidavit of means as well as tender their recent passport photographs to the court.
Besides, Justice Mohammed ordered the accused persons to surrender their international passports to the court.
According to the court, pending when all the bail conditions are perfected, the 1st accused person, Abba, should remain at Kuje prison, while his father should remain at the Abuja Clinics situated at Maitama, were he is currently undergoing treatment.
The court, however, directed the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to place the former PDP boss on constant police watch, even as it adjourned full blown trial of the accused persons till February 16.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed noted that charges against the accused persons are ordinarily bailable and do not attract capital punishment.
He said: “In law, granting of bail pending trial of an accused person is at the discretion of the court, though such discretion must be exercised judiciously and judicially. The issue to be determined is whether the applicants have placed sufficient material before this court to warrant the exercise of its discretion in their favour.
“The complainant has not denied the fact that the charges are bailable and there is nothing before the court to show that the offence attracts capital punishment,” adding that it would have denied them bail if there was “strong and weighty evidence suggesting that the accused persons will not be available to stand trial.”
The trial judge said the prosecution did not establish any of the conditions listed under section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which he said the court must consider before refusing bail to a defendant.
He noted that the prosecution already deposed an affidavit to the effect that it has concluded its investigations and established a prima-facie criminal case against the two accused persons.
The judge held: “That being the case, there is no part of the investigation likely to be affected by the defendant/applicants if released on bail. Moreover, the complainant has not shown that the claim of ill-health by the defendant is false or that the medical reports attached to the bail applications were false.
“In the circumstance, it will be most unfair to refuse the applicants bail. I am satisfied that the 1st and 3rd defendants are entitled to bail based on the facts and circumstance of this case.”