By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted bail to the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Haliru Bello and his son, Abba, to the tune of N600m.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed ordered the duo to pay N300million each, as well as produce two sureties each, in like sum.
Whereas the court maintained 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, the son was asked to produce someone not below grade level 12 to stand surety for him.
Besides, the court, ordered that the second surety must be an owner of landed property in Abuja the value of which must not be below N300m, adding that the title deed of such property must be verified and surrendered to the court registrar throughout the duration of the trial.
Both sureties are to swear to an affidavit of means, as well as tender their recent passport photographs to the court.
More so, Justice Mohammed ordered the accused persons to surrender their international passports to the court.
Pending the perfection of the bail terms, the court ordered that Abba should be remanded in prison custody, saying the ex-PDP boss should remain in hospital but placed under police watch.
Justice Mohammed has fixed February 16 to commence full-blown trial of the accused persons.
It will be recalled that the accused person were on Tuesday, docked before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
They are facing a four-count criminal charge bordering on alleged N300million fraud.
Equally charged before the court was a private firm, BAM Projects and Properties Limited, which the EFCC said was used to perpetuate the fraud.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the accused persons, through the firm, withdrew the sum of N300m from an account the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
The fund was said to have been transferred to the accused persons, 11 days to the 2015 presidential election, by the embattled former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, rtd.
However, both Bello who was docked in a wheelchair and his son, pleaded not guilty to the charge dated December 23 but amended on December 30, 2015, even as their lawyers prayed the court to release them on bail.
Specifically, the former PDP boss, through his lawyer, Mr. Abdulaziz Ibrahim, urged the court to grant him bail on rely recognition.
Bello told the court that he is still recuperating from a spinal cord surgery he had in the United Kingdom. “The 3rd defendant is over 70 years old, an elder statesman who has served this country meritoriously in various capacities. My lord he was not only a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but also the former Chairman of one of the biggest political parties in Africa.
“We pray this court to grant him bail on self recognition, or in the alternative, grant him bail on the most liberal terms. “He has responsible persons that are ready to stand surety for him”, Bello’s lawyer submitted.
One of the charge against them read: “That you Bello Abba Mohammed, BAM Projects and Properties Ltd and Dr. Haliru Bello on or about 17th March 2015 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court took possession of the sum of N300million paid into the account of BAM Projects and Properties Limited with Sterling Bank Plc from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser with the CBN when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki(rtd), the then National Security Adviser( to wit: criminal breach of trust and corruption) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section (15) (3) of the same Act”.