30 July 2012

Nigeria: Subsidy Trial - EFCC Counsel Expresses Fear Over Accused Persons' Bail

Lagos — Mr Rotimi Jacob, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the on-going trial of oil marketers alleged to have short-changed the government in appropriation of fuel subsidy funds, has said that granting bail to some of the accused persons may hinder smooth prosecution of the case.

Rotimi said this at the premises of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, hours after the bail applications of some of the suspects had been granted.

The accused persons, who were granted bail on Thursday, include Mahmud Tukur (son of the current PDP chairman), Mamman Nasir Ali (son of the ex-PDP National chairman), Abdullahi Alao (son of the multi-billionaire, Alhaji Arisekola Alao), Alex Ochonogor and a Sierra Leonean, Christian Taylor, all of whom are standing trial for offences ranging from conspiracy and collection of money under false pretences.

According to the EFCC counsel, experiences have shown over time that after being granted bail, accused persons through their counsel, start using all forms of delay tactics with volumes of applications to hinder effective prosecution of cases.

"When we commenced prosecution of cases for the anti-graft agency, it was a lot easier then because judges were not granting bail to accused persons. But since the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal in Kaduna, that accused persons in EFCC custody are entitled to bail, it has become a common phenomenon for counsel to the accused to cite the judgment as reference to secure bail for their clients. But immediately after such bail has been granted, the counsel will start filing all sorts of applications that may eventually draw back smooth prosecution of the case," he said.

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