A Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday granted bail to former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye‎ on self-recognition.
Trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, granted bail to Oronsaye’s co-accused, Osarenkhoe Afe, in the sum of N50million with two sureties, one of whom must not be less than Grade Level 16 in either federal or state government service.
The judge held that one of Chief Afe’s sureties must have property worth N75million within Abuja jurisdiction.
He ordered that both Oronsaye and Afe should deposit their passports and other travel documents with the court registrar.
Justice Kolawole also ordered that in the event that the accused persons were unable to meet the bail conditions within one week, they should be re-arrested and remanded in Kuje Prison in Abuja.
Afe is the Managing Director of Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Limited, a company named as the third accused in the 24 counts preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
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.
The fraud was allegedly‎ perpetrated through awarding and payment for phoney contracts to nine companies including Innovative Solutions, Fredrick Hamilton Global Services, Xangee Technologies Limited, Fatideck Ventures, Obalando Nigeria Enterprises, Moshfad Enterprises and Fesbee Global Resources Limited.
Other companies through which the accused persons allegedly siphoned the money from the Federal Government were Jolance Integrated Concept Limited and M.OF Investment Limited.
There were new twists to the trial on Tuesday, as Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, sent a lawyer, Esther Uzoma, to court yesterday to debunk the allegation that he was at large.
Embattled Maina is not named ‎as an accused person in the case, but his name appears in many of the 24 counts preferred against the accused persons as an accomplice who is on the run.
Barrister Uzoma said it was unfair to describe her client as being at large when he was never invited by the ‎EFCC since 2011 when the anti-graft agency started taking statements from people concerned.
“No single invitation since 2011, yet they said he is at large. That is unfair,” Uzoma said.
But the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Rotimi 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.
Though Uzoma agreed to accept service for the charges on behalf of her client, she insisted that the EFCC should follow the rules of the court on how to bring PRTT boss to court.
On the bail applications filed by Oronsaye and the other accused person, Jacobs said he was not willing to oppose the applications since the court had earlier, on July 13 after the accused persons’ arraignment, ‎released them to their lawyers upon an undertaking that they would be produced in court on Tuesday.
He, however, opposed the request by the defence lawyers, Kanu Agabi (SAN) and Oluwole Aladedoye, that the accused persons should be granted bail based on self-recognition.
Jacobs insisted that the court should impose conditions that would ensure the accused persons’ attendance in court for the prosecution of the matter.
Their trial however witnessed a new twist when Justice Kolawale said he intended to return the case file to the Chief Judge for re-assignment.
Justice Kolawole had on July 13, 2015 released the accused persons to their counsel and fixed yesterday for hearing of the bail applications.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, 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”.

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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 the 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,” adding that, “the accused persons were presumed innocent until the contrary is proven in a fair hearing.”

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