Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: EFCC Arraigns Sylva for N6.46 Billion Fraud

Abuja — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday arraigned Timipre Sylva, ex-governor of Bayelsa at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Sylva is standing trial for alleged misappropriation of N6.46 billion state funds.

The anti-graft agency had in a suit number HC/ABJ/CR/23/2012, claimed that Sylva and others now at large and committed the offence between October 2009 and February 2010.

The former governor and others were accused of fraudulently obtaining N4 billion loans from Union Bank.

The loans were allegedly obtained under the guise of using it to augment workers' salaries.

The EFCC also alleged that the accused persons had in the same period converted properties and resources of the Bayelsa government amounting to N2 billion to personal use.

They were also alleged to have converted N380 million worth of government property through a Fin Bank account No. 221433478108 belonging to one Habibu Maigida, a Bureau De Change operator on Jan. 22, 2010.

The EFCC further said that Sylva and his accomplices had on Feb. 5, 2010, converted N50 million of the state's funds through a First Bank account number 6152030001946 of Enson Benmer Ltd.

The anti-graft agency had said that the offences contravened the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004.

Sylva pleaded not guilty to the six-count charge.

Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), counsel to the accused person informed the court on a pending bail application filed by the accused.

Fagbemi, who was allowed to move the application argued that the offences allegedly committed by the applicant were bailable offences.

He said that the application should be granted to allow the accused person prepare his defence, adding that "detention is to guarantee prompt attendance of the trial".

"The applicant has surrendered himself to the EFCC, so it is therefore sure that he will attend the trial if granted the bail. After all my Lords, he is still innocent until proven otherwise."

Mr Festus Keyamo, the prosecution counsel, however, opposed the application, saying that the court should take judicial notice of the efforts made by the prosecutor to bring the accused to court.

"The accused person is evasive my Lord, he ran abroad from justice when he got wind of the charge. My Lord, the application must be refused because the evidence is weighty and direct.

"The Supreme Court has ruled that when an evidence against an accused is weighty and direct, such an accused should be denied bail," Keyamo said.

In his ruling, Justice Adamu Bello ordered that the accused person be remanded in EFCC custody.

Bello adjourned ruling on the application to June 7. (NAN)

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