A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, dismissed a bail application filed by ASP Bawa James, a co-defendant in the alleged drug trafficking case preferred against suspended DCP Abba Kyari and others.
Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling, held that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) had succeeded to prove its argument beyond doubt why the court should not admit James to a bail.
Justice Nwite had, on March 28, fixed today for ruling on bail application filed by James after Kyari and other co-defendants’ bail pleas were rejected on the grounds that James’ application was not ripe for hearing.
The NDLEA had, on March 7, arraigned Kyari (1st defendant) and six others on allegations bordering on a cocaine deal.
He was arraigned alongside four suspended police officers including ACP Sunday Ubia, ASP James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu as 2nd to 5th defendants respectively.
Also arraigned with them are Chibunna Umeibe and Emeka Ezenwanne, the two alleged drug traffickers who were arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu.Although the five officers pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them, Umeibe and Ezenwanne, who are 6th and 7th defendants respectively, pleaded guilty to five, six and seven counts preferred against them.
Ruling, the judge aligned with the argument of counsel for NDLEA, Joseph Sunday, that James (3rd defendant) was a flight risk and that he might jump bail.
Nwite said that the 3rd defendant had failed to bring up strong evidence to challenge the anti-narcotic agency’s submission that the character of evidence against him was very serious.
He said though the defence argued that the court had the discretionary power to rule in favour of the applicant since the offence was a bailable one, he was mindful to consider the submission of the prosecution.
The judge, therefore, refused to grant James bail and adjourned the matter until May 26.NAN recalls that the defence counsel had argued that ASP James had a good record as staff of the Nigerian police and had conducted himself well in the course of the trial.
But the NDLEA, in its counter-affidavit, said it would be improper and inappropriate for the court to grant him bail considering the nature of the case.
The agency argued that sufficient materials had been placed before the court to refuse the bail plea.
It said that James was charged with serious offence and the agency is also investigating him on money laundering offence which might be charged to court soon.
It alleged that the applicant, if granted bail, might run away from justice considering their connection with elements of police and criminal underworld.
Besides, the NDLEA argued that the suspended officer might undermine the criminal justice process if admitted to bail.
The agency, which said that James’ arrest was in line with the due process of the law, said that it was ready to commence trial without delay with its witnesses lined up.
The agency further told the court that it had shown that the applicant (James) had connection with criminal elements and that he had tremendous influence in Nigerian police and could use his contact to his advantage.
But James, through his counsel, had disagreed with all the allegations by the NDLEA.
He said that contrary to the NDLEA’s allegations, there was no evidence to suggest that he had connection with criminal elements.
He said his suspension as police officer was not that he was already guilty of the offences to which he was charged with but to allow for fair trial.
UPDATED-Court to Rule on Nnamdi Kanu’s Bail Plea, Preliminary Objection March 19
A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, fixed March 19 for ruling on the bail application filed by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Justice Binta Nyako will, also on the same date, rule on a notice of preliminary objection filed by Kanu praying the court not to allow his trial until certain conditions were met by the Federal Government.
Justice Nyako fixed the date after the new counsel for the Federal Government, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, and Kanu’s lawyer, Alloy Ejimakor, adopted their processes and presented their arguments for and against the motions.
Reports says that the IPOB leader was initially standing trial on a 15-count charge bordering on terrorism offences before eight of the counts were quashed by the trial judge leaving seven counts, and the Supreme Court, on Dec.15, 2023, affirmed the lower court decision.
When the matter was called on Monday, Awomolo told Justice Nyako that the case was coming up for hearing after the decision of the Supreme Court on Dec. 15, 2023.
Awomolo said the apex court affirmed Nyako’s decision of April 8, 2022, by preserving counts one, two, three, four, five, eight and 15 of the charge which Kanu pleaded not guilty of.
The senior lawyer said that the Supreme Court ordered the continuation of trial of Kanu on the remaining seven counts.
“So we are ready to proceed with the hearing of this matter and it is in the defendant’s interest and everybody’s interest in this country to see to the end of the trial” he said.
But Counsel to Kanu, Ejimakor, told the court that he had two motions; an application for bail and a preliminary objection.
He said though he agreed that the Supreme Court directed the continuation of Kanu’s trial, they were not ready to continue the proceedings.
He urged the court to take his client’s bail application and preliminary objection for court to decide whichever way, and the prosecution did not object.
While given grounds why the bail plea should be granted, Ejimakor said Kanu currently suffered from life-threatening and serious health conditions.
According to the lawyer, Kanu has heart disease, hypertension and dangerous potassium levels that pose daily risks to his life while in detention.
He argued that the DSS had no standard medical facility that could treat the defendant but was only subjected to cell-grade medical treatment, which did not abate his conduction but instead worsened it.
He urged the court to grant the bail request on most liberal terms to enable the IPOB leader seek better medical care he urgently requires.
He said though Section 161 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, raised three conditions for bail to be satisfied, Kanu had met those terms, including ill-health, delayed proceedings and not being given adequate time and facilities to prepare for his defence.
Ejimakor alleged that the prosecution, since Kanu’s arrest and arraignment, had delayed the proceedings for several months through amendment of charges and adjournments
He also argued that he might not be able to put up a good defence unless Kanu was admitted to bail to have unfettered access to his lawyers.
Contrary to the prosecution’s counter affidavit that Kanu jumped bail, the lawyer argued that Kanu only fled for his dear life when his residence was attacked by security agents and that as far back as October 2018, he deposed to an affidavit to explain the circumstances.
But Awomolo disagreed with Ejimakor, insisting that the defendant violated the bail conditions, jumped bail and fled the country,.
He said there was no evidence before the court that if granted another bail, he would not jumped bail, urging the court to dismiss the application.
The senior lawyer said Kanu’s failure to prove that there was no standard medical facility in Department of State Service (DSS)’ detention contradicted Section 161(2a) of ACJA.
“So he has not been able to satisfied Section 161(2a),”:he said.
He argued that the IPOB leader had not tendered anything tangible or extraordinary to show he was entitled to bail.
On the delayed proceedings, Awomolo said the court itself observed that both parties were responsible.
The lawyer, who argued that the Supreme Court had settled issues about Kanu’s rendition, said other judgments in favour of the IPOB leader were only persuasive, and not binding on Justice Nyako.
On the preliminary objection, Ejimakor said the application prayed for an order that before any proceeding could commence in the trial, the Federal Government must cease and desist from certain conducts.
He said these include seizure of documents of his lawyers, stopping his lawyers from taking notes during visitation, and eavesdropping on Kanu’s consultation with lawyers on matters pertaining to his defence,
He also sought an alternative order that before commencement of trial, a non-custodial arrangement be made so as to afford Kanu adequate time and facilities to prepare for his defence.
But Awomolo, who opposed the application, described it as an abuse of court process.
He argued that a party cannot dictate to court how to conduct its proceedings.
He said it was an insult to the court for a party to dictate that unless the detaining authority acts in certain ways, trial should not commence.
The lawyer, who said that the prosecution had never breached the fundamental rights of the IPOB leader, urged the court to dismiss the application.
Justice Nyako adjourned the matter until March 19 for ruling and trial commencement for March 20.(NAN)
Court Further Adjourns Fayose’s Money Laundering Trial
Money laundering trial of a former Governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose, could not proceed on Wednesday before a federal high court in Lagos, as the court did not sit.
The Judge, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, is said to be away on an official assignment.
The case has been adjourned until March 8 for continuation of trial,
Fayose is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged N6.
He was first arraigned on Oct. 22. 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun.
He was arraigned alongside his company, Spotless Investment Ltd.
Fayose, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges, and was granted bail on Oct. 24, 2018, in the sum of N50 million with sureties in like sum.
The defendants were, however, re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Olatoregun following a petition by EFCC.
Fayose equally pleaded not guilty before Aneke, who allowed him to continue on the bail granted him by Olatoregun.
EFCC has since opened its case before Aneke and is leading witnesses in evidence.
According to the commission, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and one Abiodun Agbele took possession of N1.2 billion for the purpose of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti.
The commission alleged that the sum formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose is also alleged to have received a cash payment of five million dollars from the then Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution.
EFCC also alleged that the former governor retained N300 million in his bank account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million which formed part of crime proceeds.
It added that Fayose procured De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to retain aggregate sums of N851 million which formed part of crime proceeds.
The commission also accused Fayose of using about N1.6 billion crime proceeds to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.
The former governor also allegedly used N200 million crime proceeds to acquire a property in Abuja in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji.
The alleged offences contravene Sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d) and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011. (NAN)
Man in Court over Customer’s Tyres
The Police on Wednesday arraigned a 30-year-old man, Badamasi Saidu, in a Magistrate’s Court, New Karu, Nasarawa State, over alleged theft of two tyres belonging to his customer.
The defendant, who is into car wheel balancing and resides at Calvary Road, Mararaba was charged with criminal breach of trust, cheating and theft, offences he denied committing.
The prosecutor, Mr Shehu Ndam, told the court that the defendant was arrested on Feb.14, following a report by the complainant, Sylvia Ugochi.
“The complainant alleged that she entrusted some tyres to the defendant to sell, but that he stole two tyres, valued at N116,000.
“The complainant also alleged that goods worth N3 million had been stolen from her shop,” Ndam told the court.
He said the offence contravened sections 312, 322 and 288 of the Penal Code.
The Judge, Godiya Bawa, granted the defendant bail in the sum of N500,000 and one surety in like sum, and adjourned the case until March 8 for hearing. (NAN
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