The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, admitted Ali Bello and three others to a total bail of N2bn in their N3 billion fraud trial.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu held that the charges against the defendants are bailable, and that bail is to enable defendants charged with an offense to prepare well for their trial. She, therefore, ordered the defendants to pay N500 million each as bail.
Bello was on February 8, 2023 arraigned alongside Abba Adauda, Yakubu Siyaka Adabenege and Iyadai Sadat, on an 18-count before Justice Egwuatu of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The defendants were in count one charged with procuring, “E- Traders International Limited to retain the aggregate sum of N3,081,804,654.00 which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: criminal misappropriation, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 18(a), 15(20)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.
They were also charged with procuring “E-Traders International Limited to transfer the aggregate sum of $570,330 to account number no; 426-6644272 domiciled in TD Bank, United States of America, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to with: criminal misappropriation, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act” in count three.
Delivering ruling in the applications, Justice Egwuatu held that bail is granted to the defendants in the sum of N500 million each, with two sureties in like sum.
The sureties according to the Justice must reside in Abuja, with identifiable addresses.
They must also own landed property worth N500 million within the jurisdiction of the court adding that the original title documents to the said property must be deposited with the Registrar of the court, together with evidence of tax payment for three years running from 2020 to 2022.
Additionally, the judge held that the defendants are to deposit their international passports with the court and can only travel after due permission from the court.
Subsequently, the matter was adjourned to April 16 for commencement of trial.
Earlier in a previous sitting, Ahmed Raji, SAN, arguing the bail applications of the four defendants contended that the offenses against his clients are ordinarily bailable and pleaded that the court should use its discretion in favour of the defendants.
In validating his argument and dismissing claims that the defendants pose a flight risk and would tamper with evidence, the senior lawyer argued that the defendants have so far posed no resistance or difficulties during the period of their investigation.
He added that the EFCC granted one of the defendants permission to travel to Saudi Arabia and that the defendant kept faith by returning to Nigeria and surrendered his passport to the commission.
Responding, counsel to the EFCC, M. K. Husseini, had strongly opposed the request, arguing that the defendants are likely going to jump bail and not make themselves available for trial and urged the court to deny the defendants bail.
After consideration, Justice Egwuatu declared that the ruling on the bail applications would be delivered on Monday, February 20, 2023.