The Federal High Court, Abuja, will, on Friday, delivered its ruling on the application for bail filed by Sen. Ali Ndume, who represents Borno South Senatorial District.
Justice Okon Abang, after taking arguments from counsel representing the parties in the case, also ordered the lawyers to make available copies of the authorities cited to back their submissions before the close of work.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the court had, yesterday, fixed today for the hearing of the bail plea of Ndume, who had been remanded in Kuje Correctional Centre over his inability to produce Abdulrasheed Maina, who he stood surety for.
Justice Abang had, on Monday, ordered the remand of Ndume in.prison, pending when he was able to pay the sum of N500 million bail bond to the Federation Account or produce Maina, who was said to have jumped bail, in court.
Ndume, through his lawyer, Marcel Oru, had, on Tuesday, filed an appeal against his remand order at the Court of Appeal, along with an application for his bail before Justice Abang.
The judge had, on Nov. 18, revoked Maina, a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team’s bail, issued a warrant of arrest on him and ordered that his trial should proceed in his absence.
Arguing the bail application, Oru urged the court to grant Ndume bail pending the determination of his appeal at the Court of Appeal against the forfeiture of the bail bond.
The lawyer said that the court had jurisdiction to hear the application since the court record and other files relating to the matter were yet to be transmitted to the Appeal Court.
He said he decided to approach the trial court because it would be faster to dispense with the bail application than to wait at the Appeal Court where it could take about six months to determine.
He added that to wait for a period of six months would amount to the applicant inadvertently serving the punishment prescribed by law for an offence he had not been convicted for .
Oru pleaded with the Court to have sympathy with Ndume, who had spent four days in custody over the “condemnable and despicable conduct of Maina.”
Condemning the conduct of Maina further, the lawyer said with the ruling, “only God knows from the lesson learned whether a Nigerian with a good heart will ever stand surety for anyone anymore. “
The counsel further urged the court to consider his application within the peculiar circumstances in which Ndume was sent to prison and exercise discretion to grant the application .
He argued that throughout proceedings of Maina , Ndume had attended court despite his busy schedule as Senator.
Oru, who said Ndume had signed the court register kept by the registrar of court as directed, said within the period, he had been of good conduct.
He said he also raised serious issues of law in his application.
According to the lawyer, the only order the court could have issued is to order the forfeiture of landed property as deposed to in the applicant affidavit in respect of the property whose title deed is in custody of the court.
He also contended that Ndume was sent to prison without trial as he ought to have been given opportunities to call witnesses, give evidence and if found guilty, make plea for mercy.
The lawyer also urged the court to consider the fact that Ndume is a serving member of the Senate and Chairman, Senate Committee on Army.
He said the lawmaker was over sighting the activities of the army who was fighting terrorism and internal security challenges in 30 out of 36 states of the federation.
“Ndume also is member of three other critical committees of Senate on health; Establishment and Public Service, and Special Duties,” he submitted.
In his response, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, opposed the bail application.
He urged the court to hold that the applicant did not contradict the counter affidavit opposing his bail application.
“Therefore, the contentious issues contained in the deposition should be taken as having being admitted by the appellant applicant,” he said.
Abubakar also said that if the court grants the plea, it would amount to the court sitting on appeal over its decision.
He argued that Ndume deposed to affidavit of means to always produce Maina in court and that he was much aware of the implication of the deposition.
Justice Abang, who adjourned the ruling until Nov. 27, said the sitting would be determined by the judicial time of the court.
Maina is being prosecuted by the EFCC on charges bordering on money laundering offences.