Justice Bolaji Yusuf of the Oyo State High Court has ordered that the former Oyo State Head of Service, Mrs. Adeleke Kudirat Iyabo, and other eleven civil servants standing trial for allegedly stealing N2.7 billion pension funds of retirees of Oyo State primary schools be remanded in Agodi Prison, Ibadan till 26 November, 2013 when she will rule on their bail application.
The other accused former members of staff are: Executive Secretary of the pension board, Muili Hakeem Aderemi; treasurer, Iyabo Giwa, cashier; Adesina Jimoh Ayoade, auditor; Oguntayo Banji N, and admin officer, Adebiyi Musendiq Olasumbo.
Others are: Muili Adedamola, Adeduntan Johnson, Johnson Bosede, Kareem Rasheed, Olujimi Adebayo and Adewale Kehinde.
The twelve accused persons are standing trial on 213-count charge slammed on them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Justice Yusuf gave the ruling after about six hours of sitting taking the arguments and counter arguments between the counsel of the accused persons and the counsel of EFCC as regards the bail applications.
The judge, in her ruling said: “I hereby adjourned till November 26, 2013 for ruling.”
The counsel to the accused persons are: A. A. Okunade, Olumuyiwa Makinde, A. M. Asiru, Akin ladipo, Yakub Fadare, Abiodun Dabiri, Abiodun Adebayo, J.J Olaniyan, Abiodun Azeez, Richard Ogunwole (SAN), Olutayo Oyewole, Bolaji Agoro and Akin Ayedun while Gbolahan Latona is the counsel for the applicant (EFCC).
The counsel to the accused persons explained to the court that bail is a right that accused persons are entitled to, arguing that denying them bail is like denying them of their right because they are presumed innocent until they are proven otherwise.
They argued that all the accused persons are credible and that because they did not jump bail when they were granted bail at magistrates’ court, and other prosecuting teams, they could not jump bail.
They also argued that granting them bail would give them the opportunity to have unfettered access to their counsel, stressing that due to the nature of the case which has multiplicity of charges, it would do the accused persons good to have access to their counsel.
They also sought for bail for the accused persons on medical ground.
Ogunwole condemned EFCC for incarceration of the former head of service prior to her arraignment, saying that it was unfair.
He said that when the head of service aborted the medical operation she went for in London and willingly came to Nigeria to submit herself to the EFCC upon invitation, she was arrested and detained.
“Nigeria should do better. EFCC has not discharged the onus to detain the accused persons,” he added.
Mr. Asiru, counsel to the 3rd accused person described newspaper reports as mere worthless papers that cannot be taken as evidence in the court, stressing that “EFCC exhibit 3-9 which are newspaper cuttings are of no evidential value. A newspaper report has no evidential value. They are worthless papers,” he reiterated.
Arguing against the respondents’ counsel, Mr. Latona, opposed to the bail application of the accused persons, saying that the arguments of the accused persons were unfounded and some of the facts presented to court to support their grounds are contradictory and misleading.
He noted that the bail application should be rejected, considering the nature of the offence and the severity of the offence, adding that “it involves 213 counts touching on the revenue of Oyo State. It is about economic sabotage. It involves forgery which carries life imprisonment. OBT alone carries a maximum term of seven to twenty years without an option of fine.”
He said exhibits 3-9 which are newspaper cuttings are very relevant to the matter, saying that they are meant to serve as judicial notice and that he would tender the original copies of the newspapers if the court demands.
Replying, Ogunwole Latona (SAN) said that the head of service was in the United Kingdom for a cosmetic operation when operatives of EFCC came to her Ibadan residence to effect her arrest in June 2010.
Latona said that contrary to the claim by Ogunwole, that the head of service was away in London to seek medical attention on an health challenge, the woman was there to carry out operation to trim down her belly, stressing “the woman was in London to do what rich people do, that is, trim their tummy.”