Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Breaking News: Court Adjourns Ruling On Ex-PDP Chairman, Son

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday, January 5, adjourned the ruling on a bail application by a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Haliru Mohammed Bello and his son Abba Mohammed.

The presiding judge, Ahmed Mohammed in his ruling adjourned the matter to Thursday, January 7.

He also ordered that Bello remain on admission under the supervision of the inspector general of police, Solomon Arase while his son, Abba be remanded in Kuje prison custody in Abuja.

Mohammed also said that the attention of the IGP will be drawn to the matter by the chief registrar of the court immediately.

On assumption of hearing today, January 5, while lawyers and all others seated including security operatives waited for the judge to appear, Bello praying the “tsebe” (Muslim prayer beads) was wheeled into the courtroom by a female hospital attendant.

He pleaded not guilty to all the charges read to them.

But at the end of the last charge and pleas taking the prosecuting counsel Aliyu Yusuf told the court that he has just been informed that Bello needed to answer the call of nature.

While apologizing, Yusuf prayed the court to permit the ex-PDP chairman to leave the courtroom for this purpose.

On the judge’s approval, at 11.45am, the former PDP chairman was wheeled out of the court. With the help of the hospital attendant he was brought back after 10 minutes but another case was already being heard by the court.

Rounding the up with the new case, the judge called for the continuation of Bello’s case.

On resumption of the case, the prosecuting counsel prayed that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody pending their trial.

But the counsel to the first defendant, A. Osoka asked the court not to oblige to the prayer to remand the accused in prison.

Also, Abdullaziz Ibrahim standing for the third defendant urged the court not to remand him in prison but grant him bail.

“My lord, I confirm that we were charged with a motion for bail for the first and third defendants,” Yusuf said.

After 20 minutes adjournment, hearing on the bail application began.

The stand down was to allow the court registrar file a counter affidavit by the EFCC objecting the bail application by the accused persons.

On resumption, Osoka informed the court that his client would like to withdraw one (dated December, 29, 2015) out of two bail applications made.

While there was no objections by all parties, Osoka continued: “My lord, our application is dated and filed on December 31.”

He said the bail application made for his client is based on Section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and section 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

He also argued that the charges against his client is bail-able and there is no indication that Abba would jump bail as this is his “first-ever” appearance before any court after having spent 41 days in the custody of the EFCC.

Osoka added that section 165 of the ACJA stated that bail should not be excessive but on the most liberal terms.

After this, the counsel to Bello while adopting the bail application by his colleague, Osoka prayed the court to admit his client to bail.

He further said the application was based on the fact that Bello is a well-respected citizen and will not jump bail.

He said: “My lord, the third defendant had a spinal surgery on United Kingdom but immediately returned to the country with his fresh wound on the invitation by the EFCC.”

He added that Bello had since his return been on admission in an Abuja hospital and was brought to court by the hospital ambulance and two nurses.

But in objection, Yusuf said he is concerned about narratives given by his colleague, Ibrahim.

But the judge said Ibrahim’s narrative and facts does not expose evidences that will interfere with trail.

To this Ibrahim prayed the court to grant the former PDP chairman bail on “very very liberal” terms.

Objecting to the bail applications, the prosecuting counsel asked the court to consider materials before the court and deny the accused persons bail, saying, “I pray the court to consider severity of punishment, possibility of committing another offense or interfering with trial.”

Citing a 1995 case between M. K. O Abiola and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Yusuf said the applicant has not shown any evidence that the ailment suffered by the third accused person cannot be treated in the prison.

He however prayed the court for an accelerated hearing on the matter rather than grant the applicants bail.

The court on hearing all the submissions adjourned the matter to Thursday, January 7 for ruling.

Haliru’s arraignment was previously stalled on Wednesday, December 30 due to his ill-health.

Haliru, an ex-chairman of PDP and former minister of defense alongside his son, Abbah Mohammed and his company are alleged to have aided in the diversion of funds slated for arms procurement by the Office of the National Security Adviser.

The four-count charge against him by the EFCC borders on money laundering and criminal breach of trust.

The charges with charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/389/2015, a case between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the three accused persons are before a Federal High Court in Abuja.