By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA— A native doctor, Mr. Bala Tangalu, was yesterday, docked before an Abuja high court at Jabi over alleged N2.5 million fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The self-styled witch doctor pleaded not guilty to a two-count criminal charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence.
Tangalu was arrested following a petition by one Dozie Ugonna.
The petitioner alleged that the defendant and his cohorts hoodwinked him to part with N2.5 million on the pretext that they were preparing protective charms for him.
According to Ugonna, the money was meant for the purchase of materials to neutralise some harmful charms purportedly contained in a carton filled with United States dollars.
The EFCC maintained that the witch doctor, by his action, committed an offence contrary to Section 8 (a) and punishable under Section 8 (C) and 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14, 2006.
Meanwhile, shortly after the defendant took his plea, EFCC lawyer, Elizabeth Alabi, applied for trial date.
The prosecution counsel equally prayed the court to remand the defendant in prison custody, pending determination of the charge against him.
EFCC urged the court to consider “the weight of the offence,” which it said attracts a minimum of seven years jail term.
However, the defence counsel, Yusuf Abdullahi, told the court he had a pending bail application before the court.
Abdullahi noted that the defendant was earlier granted administrative bail by the EFCC, which he did not breach.
The defence lawyer begged the court to allow his client to go home on the same bail condition.
In his ruling, trial Justice A. B. Mohammed granted the defendant N2 million bail with two sureties in like sum.
The court said the sureties must be civil servants or a community leader and adjourned till March 20.