Steve Oronsaye Gets Bail On Self Recognition But His Co-Accused Has A N50m Surety Among Other Stringent Conditions
A Federal High Court on Tuesday granted bail to a former Head of Service of the Federation, Stephen Oronsaye on self-recognition.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole, however granted bail to Oronsaye’s co-accused, Osarenkhoe Afe, in the sum of N50m with two sureties, one of whom must not be less than Grade Level 16 in either federal or state government establishments. The judge also ruled that one of Afe’s sureties must have property worth N75m within Abuja.
He ordered that both Oronsaye and Afe must deposit their passports and other travel documents with the court registrar. Justice Kolawole ordered that in the event that the accused persons were unable to meet the bail conditions within one week, they should be rearrested and remanded in Kuje prison in Abuja.
The EFCC is prosecuting the accused persons for allegedly defrauding the Federal Government to the tune of N118,992,201.6 under the guise of paying the money in tranches for the contract of biometric data capture project between March 2010 and December 2011.
Oronsaye and his co-accused were alleged to have been complicit in using two companies – Federick Hamilton Global Services Limited, and Xangee Technologies Limited, for shady biometrics enrolment deals to the tune of N2 billion. Justice Kolawole had on July 13, 2015 released the accused persons to their counsel and fixed July 21, 2015 for hearing of the bail applications.
At the resumed sitting prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, told the court that it would be “extremely difficult for him to oppose the bail applications for the accused persons”, because in his view, “the act of the last sitting, in which Oronsaye was released by the judge was tantamount to being released on bail” such that it might amount to a futile effort to now try to oppose their bail applications.
He said that it would be better in the instance to “focus on the conditions that would be attached to the bail”.
He further noted that in the said bail application of Oronsaye, were already a list of sureties that could stand for the accused person, an indication that the accused person was sure of being granted bail. Kanu Agabi, SAN, counsel to Oronsaye, on his own part, further urged to court not to send his client to prison custody, as “our prisons are bad” and averred that “bail can be granted on self recognizance”.
Oluwole Aladedoye, counsel to Afe, who also represented the third accused, Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Limited, added that the second accused had since 2011, when investigations in the alleged fraud began, “never fled but honoured invitations by the EFCC.”
A third accused person, Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman of the Pension Task Team, who though not listed in the charge, but said to be at large, sent a lawyer, Esther Uzoma, to debunk the allegation that he was at large.
Uzoma claimed that Maina never got any invitation from the EFCC to appear before it. “I came here to clear the perception that he is at large,” she said. But Jacobs insisted that Maina had been at large. “It is a good development. He (Maina) has not retired but he is not at his offices. He has been in Dubai,” he said.
Jacobs urged the judge to extract an undertaking from Uzoma to the effect that she would produce her client in court. Justice Kolawole, in his ruling, expressed the view that the remarks of Jacobs, were in his view, “intended to intimidate the court”, which was tacitly alleging bias on the part of the court.
The judge said, “I had wanted both defence and prosecution to come up with the terms of the bail, but the remarks of the prosecuting counsel that he will not oppose bail were in my view, intended to intimidate the court”.
“The accused persons were presumed innocent until the contrary is proven in a fair hearing”, he noted. Justice Kolawole, thereafter, fixed October 5, 2015 for mention.
-Faith Aghaeze, Abuja