Justice Olusola Williams of a Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, has revoked the bail granted to banker, Chester Onyeamachi Ukandu, who is standing trial on a three-count charge bordering on forgery and impersonation.
The judge revoked the bail of Ukandu for breaching the express conditions of bail granted him and acting in a manner capable of jeopardising the course of justice in the case.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Ukandu, a former Managing Director of MainStreet Bank Registrar Limited with one Mr. Achi George, before Justice Williams on March 19, 2018, over alleged forging Corporate Affairs Commission (C.A.C.) documents.
According to the charge sheet, they were arraigned among other counts for conspiracy to forge documents contrary to sections 409 and 363(1) of the criminal law of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2011.
EFCC prosecutor, Mrs. Zainab Ettu, had informed the court that suspects between February 6 and 7, 2012, conspired among themselves and forged the letter head paper of Mainstreet Bank Registrars Limited, with registration number: 613674, claiming that it emanated from Mainstreet Bank’s Registrars Limited.
They were also accused of forging a Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Form 2A, claiming that it emanated from CAC.
Ettu informed the court that the two suspects, who had retired from the company unlawfully, convert the company’s properties and bank account with Skye Bank for personal use.
The prosecutor also informed the court that the two defendants were apprehended after investigation was conducted on a petition written by the Company’s lawyer, Dr. Charles Mekwunye, after which they were consequently charged before the court.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and following their plea, their lawyer, Samuel Agu, informed the court that he had filed bail applications, and urged the court to grant his clients bail in the most liberal terms.
They were subsequently granted bail and as well remanded in prison custody pending the perfection of their bail conditions.
One of the conditions for bail granted by Justice Williams was a strict warning to the defendants that until the final determination of the suit or any other suits in the Federal High Court, pertaining to the ownership of the Mainstreet Bank Registrars Limited, the defendants should desist from holding themselves out as officers of the company and other correspondence in that regard.
However, the EFCC by a motion on Notice dated January 15, 2019, complained to the court that the 1st defendant, Ukandu has breached some of the bail conditions by acting in a manner capable of jeopardising the course of justice in the case.
A.B.C Ozioko, the EFCC prosecutor, while praying the court to revoke the Ukandu’s bail told the court that instead of being sober and face the charge of forgery against him, the 1st defendant continue to engage in chest-beating braggado contrary to his bail conditions.
According to EFCC prosecutor, the 1st defendant continued to write numerous petitions against the prosecution star witness in the matter, seeking to intimidate, harass and embarrass the witness.
Ukandu was also accused of writing a petition to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) against a lawyer, who is also a witness in his matter after he was granted bail.
EFCC said Ukandu has taken active steps to interfere with the successful prosecution of the case against him since he was granted bail and urged the court to revoke his bail.
However, in his response, the 1st defendant denied all the EFCC allegations against him.
Ukandu said in full compliance of the bail conditions, he has refrained from addressing himself as a Director or the Chairman of Mainstreet Bank Registrars Ltd, and has not authored any letter or petition with the same title since he was granted bail.
The defendant also denied ever written any petition against any officer of the EFCC since the court granted him bail on April 12, 2018.
Ukandu contended that the bail conditions ordered by the court never preclude him as a citizen of Nigeria from notifying the NBA of a misconduct and outright disregard of the rules of profession conduct by its member particularly where the making of a false statement or perjury is concerned.
He explained that the petition he wrote to the NBA against a lawyer and a witness in the case was written in his personal capacity as a Nigerian, complaining about a professional misconduct in line with the tenets of the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee who is authorised to receive such complaints.
Ruling on the application last Wednesday, Justice Williams held that once the court grants a bail to an accused person; it ought not in law revoke such bail, unless there is evidence of some changed circumstances placed before it.
According to the judge, unfortunately for the 1st defendant, there was ample evidence of changed circumstances, adding that the defendant has been restless.
The judge held that it appears that the defendant would rather take matters into his own hands instead of leaving the court to determine the suit expeditiously.
“I am persuaded that he should be placed in custody so that she does not continue to muddy the waters and disturb the progress of this case. Accordingly, the bail granted to the 1st defendant is hereby revoked”, Justice Williams ruled.
Practical Considerations to Negotiate an Enforceable Joint Operating Agreement in Civil Law Jurisdictions (Netherlands: Kluwer Law International, 2020) By Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, LL. B (1st Class), BL (1st Class), LL.M (Calgary), LL.M (Harvard), DPhil (Oxford), Professor of Law and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Nigeria, www.damilolaolawuyi.com. & Professor Eduardo G. Pereira, LL. B (Brazil), LL.M (Aberdeen), PhD (Aberdeen),www.eduardogpereira.com
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