Nigeria: Ex-Speaker, Deputy Released on Bail

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Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole and his former deputy, Usman Nafada , charged with illegally obtaining a loan of N38 billion Friday regained their freedom after fulfilling the bail conditions imposed on them.

They were released at about 5.15 pm and quietly walked out of the court premises but declined speaking with journalists.

One of their counsel, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) confirmed that Bankole and Nafada have satisfied their bail conditions successfully.

He said, “The bail conditions have been satisfied by two of them. Four sureties have signed the bail papers and the court is satisfied with the sureties. We are no longer considering the motion for variation of the bail conditions. They have satisfied the conditions and that is why they have been freed.”

Oyetibo would not disclose the names of the sureties.

Justice Suleima Belgore had ordered them to produce sureties who must be civil servants, not below the rank of a Permanent Secretary and must be working and residing in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Like the accused persons, the sureties must also deposit their travelling documents with the EFCC.

Not able to meet the bail conditions, Bankole and Nafada filed separate applications begging the judge to vary the conditions.

They admitted having problem fulfilling one of the conditions for their bail, particularly the one requiring each of them to produce a civil servant not bellow the rank of a Permanent Secretary who works and is resident within Abuja as surety.

While they were appealing to the trial judge to vary the conditions, they continued to search for permanent secretaries to act as sureties.

As at press time, the identities of the permanent secretaries who stood as sureties for them remained secret.

In their applications to vary the conditions they claimed that the permanent secretaries resident in Abuja were only those appointed by the Government of the Federation and the highest rank in the public service of the Federation.

They further stated that the permanent secretaries were not up to 50 in number.

According to them, the complainant in the charges against them was the Government of the Federation, the employer of the required category of officer – Permanent Secretary.

They said: “It has been impossible to secure the cooperation of this category of public officers of the Federation whose career may be affected by standing surety in a matter in which their employer is the complainant.”

In an attempt to meet the condition of the bail, Bankole and Nafada said they were only able to secure the following categories of person:

i. Serving and former Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

ii. Former Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

iii. Former Ambassadors.

iv. Retired Military Officers not below the rank of Colonel or its equivalent.

v. Serving members of the Code of Conduct Bureau or other federal commissions

vi. University Professors.

Bankole said he had achieved the status in political hierarchy of Nigeria as holder of the National Honour of Commander of the Order of Federal Republic (CFR) and that he owed obligation to the country not to run away but attend to the court to face his trial.

Nafada also said as a recipient of the national honour of Commander of the Order of Niger (CON), he was ready to face his trial.

Bankole and Nafada were granted bail in the sum of N50 million each. In addition, Justice Belgore said they must produce sureties who must be civil servants and must not be less than Permanent Secretary. The sureties must also be resident of Abuja.

Both of them were accused of committing criminal breach of trust when they conspired between themselves to approve the allowances and running cost of members of the House of Representatives in violation of the approved Remuneration Package for Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission and the extant Revised Financial Regulations of the Federal Government of Nigeria, 2009.

They were also accused of obtaining various loans totalling about N40 billion in contravention of the extant Revised Financial Regulations of the Federal Government of Nigeria, 2009 and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 311 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) 1990 and punishable under Section 315 of the same Penal Code Act.

EFCC accused them of using the House of Reps’ accounts with the United Bank for Africa and the First Bank to obtain loans in a dishonest manner.

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