By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Maitama, on Friday, remanded the former Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, in prison custody, following his alleged complicity in the illegal diversion of public funds to the tune of about N109.4 billion.
Trial Justice A.O. Adeyemi Ajayi remanded the ex-AGF, after he was arraigned on a 14-count charge that bordered on conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and money laundering.
The court held that Idris and other Defendants in the matter should remain in custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service till Wednesday when their bail applications will be heard.
Other Defendants in the matter are: Godfrey Olusegun Akindele, Mohammed Kudu Usman and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited.
Meanwhile, all the Defendants had after they pleaded not guilty to the charge, separately begged the court to release them on bail, pending the determination of the case against them.
Chris Uche, SAN, who appeared for the ex-AGF, assured the court that his client would be available to face the charge against him.
Uche, SAN, stressed that the EFCC had earlier granted administrative bail to the Defendant who he said flew into Abuja from Kano state immediately he was notified about the arraignment.
“In a matter of this nature that the Defendants have been on bail, and since there is no complaint that they violated the administrative bail conditions, I pray that they be allowed to continue to enjoy same”, Uche submitted.
Besides, he drew the attention of the court to the fact that the EFCC earlier seized the international passport of his client.
“This court has the power to grant bail in a matter of this nature, either by oral application or by a formal application.
“Moreover, we have also filed a formal bail application which we also served same on the Prosecution.
“The prisons are already saturated and unsafe”, Uche added.
Likewise, counsel to the 2nd and 3rd Defendants urged the court to accede to the request for bail.
However, the Prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, told the court that he would need time to respond to the Defendants’ bail applications.
Rotimi argued that allowing the Defendants to go home after their arraignment, without hearing and determination of their formal bail applications, would send a wrong signal to the society.
“To ask them to go home without coming to argue the application for bail will send a wrong signal to the society that if a less important citizen is arraigned, such person would be made to suffer.
“Having filed the application, we need to react to what they said, especially on the issue that they were granted administrative bail and they complied to it”.
The Prosecution counsel further argued that the administrative bail that was granted to the Defendants, ended immediately the charge was filed against them.
“I, therefore, urge my lord not to be persuaded by submissions of the defence lawyers”, Jacobs added.
In his ruling, Justice Ajayi ordered that the Defendants should be remanded at the Kuje Correctional Center.
Two of the counts in the charge against the Defendants, read: “That you, Ahmed Idris between February and December, 2021 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, being a public servant by virtue of your position as the Accountant General of the Federation accepted from Olusegun Akindele, a gratification in the aggregate sum of N15.1 billion which sum was converted to the United States Dollars by the said Olusegun Akindele and which sum did not form part of your lawful remuneration but as a motive for accelerating the payment of 13% derivation to the nine oil-producing sates in the Federation, through the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 155 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and punishable under the same section”.
“That you, Ahmed Idris while being the Accountant General of the Federation and Godfrey Olusegun Akindele while being the Technical Assistant to the Accountant General of the Federation between February and November, 2021, at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, in such capacity, entrusted with certain property, to wit: N84.390 billion committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property, when you dishonestly received the said sum from the Federal Government of Nigeria through Godfrey Olusegun Akindele trading under the name and style of Olusegun Akindele & Co., and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990”.