The Federal High Court judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo yesterday in Abuja, admitted the representative of Imo West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Rochas Okorocha, to a N500 million bail.
The Imo State ex-governor and his co-defendant, Anyim Nyerere, who pleaded not guilty to allegations of stealing N2.9 billion of public funds while the former was in office, filed their separate bail requests. Okorocha’s lawyer, Solomon Umoh (SAN), in arguing the bail application, urged the judge to admit his client to bail on liberal terms.
He argued that it was within senator’s constitutional right to be granted bail based on doctrine of presumption of innocence.
Umoh told the court that, “Okorocha has been a man known in this society, therefore, the prosecution’s (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) contention that he could not be served with the charge is not true, as he could have been served through substituted means.”
The defence counsel prayed the judge to grant Okorocha bail on self-recognition. Similarly, Nyerere, through his attorney, Oba Maduabuchi (SAN), asked the court to admit him to bail based on an earlier administrative bail.
“There is no day that he (Nyerere) was requested to come to court that he did not come,” he clarified. But the EFCC opposed the bail requests.
Public notary to the anti-graft agency, O.C Ugwu, while opposing the bail applications, chronicled how Okorocha evaded service of court documents. He said: “On two consecutive occasions, the 1st defendant (Okorocha) frustrated his arraignment by refusing to appear in court.”
The legal practitioner argued that Nyerere “will jeopardise the criminal administration system if granted bail.” The judge, in his ruling, admitted Okorocha to a N500 million bail, noting that the constitution provides for the defendant to be given adequate time to defend himself.
Justice Ekwo, thereafter, imposed a N500 million bail bond “with one surety in a like some, who must be within the jurisdiction of this court.” He directed the registry to verify documents of property to be presented as bail bonds and also ordered Okorocha to deposit his international passport.
The defendant is to remain in EFCC custody pending his fulfillment of the bail conditions, as the suit was adjourned to November 7 for commencement of trial. In the interim, the embattled lawmaker has thanked supporters for their solidarity.
The appreciation was contained in a statement issued, yesterday, by his Special Adviser (Media), Sam Onwuemedo. OKOROCHA, in the press release, also denied including Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, in his suit slammed against the EFCC for N1 billion damages, insisting that he sued only the EFCC that allegedly invaded his Abuja residence without arrest warrant.
The Senate Committee on Tourism Chairman confirmed that five SANs had been engaged to defend him.
Lolo Ijeoma Njoku Obinwannem News Writer/ June 1, 2022