Trial Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned till Thursday to determine whether or not the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Haliru Bello, and his son Abba, should be granted bail.
The duo were docked before the court today by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
They are facing a four-count criminal charge bordering on alleged N300million fraud.
Equally charged before the court was a private firm, BAM Projects and Properties Limited, which the EFCC said was used to perpetuate the fraud.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the accused persons, through the firm, withdrew the sum of N300m from an account the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
The fund was said to have been transferred to the accused persons, 11 days to the 2015 presidential election, by the embattled former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, rtd.
However, both Bello who was docked in a wheelchair and his son, pleaded not guilty to the charge dated December 23 but amended on December 30, 2015, even their lawyers prayed the court to release them on bail.
Specifically, the former PDP boss, through his lawyer, Mr. Abdulaziz Ibrahim, urged the court to grant him bail on rely recognition.
Bello told the court that he is still recuperating from a spinal cord surgery he had in the United Kingdom.
“The 3rd defendant is over 70 years old, an elder statesman who has served this country meritoriously in various capacities. My lord he was not only a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but also the former Chairman of one of the biggest political parties in Africa.
“We pray this court to grant him bail on self recognition, or in the alternative, grant him bail on the most liberal terms.
“He has responsible persons that are ready to stand surety for him”, Bello’s lawyer submitted.
Similarly, his son, Abba, through his lawyer, Mr. O. Osoka, also prayed the court to grant him bail on health ground.
The accused persons predicated their bail applications on sections 162, 165(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, as well as sections 35 and 36(5) (6) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Meanwhile, the EFCC, via two separate counter-affidavits that were deposed to by one of its detectives, Mr. Mohammed Goji, vehemently opposed the release of the accused persons on bail.
EFCC lawyer, Mr. Aliyu S. Yusuf, argued that the accused persons did not place sufficient evidence to warrant the court to exercise its discretion in their favour.
The prosecution urged the court to consider the severity of the charge which it said attracts a maximum of 14 years imprisonment, and the proof of evidence against the accused persons and deny them bail.
It argued that neither Bello nor his son adduced any evidence to show that they would not get proper medical attention from the prison hospital.
EFCC maintained that the accused persons, if released, have the capacity to interfere with the cause of justice.
“On the whole, we urge my lord to refuse the bail application and order accelerated hearing of this case”, Yusuf added.
After listening to all the parties, Justice Mohammed reserved ruling on the matter till Thursday.
While remanding the son in prison custody, Justice Mohammed, held that since it was not in doubt that Bello was brought to court from his hospital bed, “the 3rd accused is hereby put under the supervision of the Inspector General of Police pending the determination of his bail application”.
Shortly after the ruling, the former PDP boss was conveyed back to the hospital in an Ambulance belonging to Abuja clinics.
One of the charge against them read: “That you Bello Abba Mohammed, BAM Projects and Properties Ltd and Dr. Haliru Bello on or about 17th March 2015 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court took possession of the sum of N300million paid into the account of BAM Projects and Properties Limited with Sterling Bank Plc from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser with the CBN when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki(rtd), the then National Security Adviser( to wit: criminal breach of trust and corruption) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section (15) (3) of the same Act”.