Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday granted fresh conditions for bail to Alu Dismas, the second accused in the ongoing trial of a former acting Director-General of NIMASA, Calistus Obi, over alleged N136 million fraud.
Dismas is a former personal assistant to Patrick Akpobolokemi, the ex-DG of the Nigerian Maritime Administrative and Safety Agency (NIMASA),
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had preferred eight charges against Dismas and Obi, who was also a former Executive Director, and later, former acting DG of NIMASA.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and were admitted to bail in the sum of five million naira each, with two sureties in like sums.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the case should have come up for hearing on Feb. 26, which was the last adjourned date.
On the said date, the court started sitting at 9 a.m., and when the case was called, the first accused (Obi) was present, while Dismas had yet to arrive in court.
The court had to stand down the case until 10:35a.m., when the second accused eventually walked into the courtroom.
Justice Olatoregun, who was displeased with the lateness by the accused, consequently, revoked his bail.
She held then that, that was not the first time the accused would be absent for his trial, adding that the court could continue to wait for an accused.
“I hereby revoke his bail, he should be taken back into prison custody,” she held then.
NAN reports that trial had proceeded with the first accused that had begun to testify as a defence witness, and the prosecution conducting his cross examination.
The case was then adjourned for continuation of cross examination.
When the case was called on Monday, Mr Orji Uka, announced his appearance for the first accused, while Mr Collins Ogbonna announced his appearance for the second accused.
Ogbonna then informed the court that he had filed a summons for bail on behalf of the second accused, whose bail was revoked on Feb. 26.
He moved his application dated Feb. 27, which he supported with an eight-paragraph affidavit.
He urged the court to graciously re-admit the second accused to bail on liberal terms.
The defence counsel also apologised to the court on behalf of the second accused for his lateness to court.
He recalled that his lateness then had caused the court to revoke the second accused’s earlier bail terms.
The counsel assured the court that such a development would not repeat itself.
The prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo and the first defence counsel (Uka), did not oppose the application.
In her remarks, Justice Olatoregun said that she had perused the bail application of the second accused, but was only inclined to granting bail on fresh conditions.
The court held: “The first accused was not only absent in court for the first time on Feb. 26; let him be warned that this case has dragged on for too long.
“Further absence from court will be met with stiff penalty.
“The defendant will be entered to bail again, but not in previous terms; he is admitted to bail in the sum of N10million with two sureties in like sum.
“The sureties must reside within the court’s jurisdiction, and must have tax clearance in the last three years.”
Meanwhile, following a letter written by counsel to the first accused, the court adjourned trial until April 19.
NAN reports that the EFCC had closed the case for the prosecution on Jan. 31, 2017, while the defence counsel filed a no-case submission as answer to the case of the prosecution.
The court had dismissed the no-case submissions on Feb. 21, 2017, and had ordered the defence to open its case.
In the charge, the accused were said to have committed the offence on Aug. 5, 2014.
They were said to have conspired to convert the said sum which is the property of NIMASA and knowing same to be proceeds of stealing.
The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 15 and 18(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 2012.
12 March, 2018