Former Bayelsa State Governor Timipre Sylva, has been granted bail by a Federal High Court, Abuja in a six-count fraud charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The commission had yesterday re-arraigned the Sylva who is co- chairman of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari Transition Committee for a N2.45billion fraud.
He allegedly committed the offences between October 2009 and February 2010 as governor of the state.
Sylva pleaded not guilty to the charges when he was re-arraigned before Justice Evoh Chukwu.
He had similar charges pending against him before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja before the judge’s retirement.
He had on June 5, 2012 pleaded not guilty to the charges when he was first arraigned for the offences before Justice Adamu Bello (now retired).
The matter had to start de novo (afresh) following the retirement of Justice ‎Bello, a development which prompted Sylva’s re-arraignment before Justice Chukwu yesterday.
‎The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Festus Keyamo, who signed the charges, accused Sylva of offences, including conversion of various sums of money belonging to the state with the aim of concealing their illicit origins.
He was also accused of inducing‎ Union Bank Plc to fraudulently grant him a N2billion overdraft facility under the pretext of using the money to augment workers’ salary.
He allegedly committed the offences in conspiracy with other unnamed persons said to be at large.
In the first count, the EFCC alleged that between October 2009 and February 2010, the former governor conspired with other unnamed persons to convert “property and resources amounting to N2billion belonging to‎ Bayelsa State government derived from an illegal act, with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the said amount.”
In the second count, the EFCC said that on January 22, 2010, Sylva converted the sum of N380million, property of Bayelsa State government, “through the account of one Habibu Sani Maigidia, a Bureau de Change operator with Account No. 221433478108, in the (defunct) Fin Bank Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act.”
The commission in count three accused the former governor of converting N50million belonging to his state “through the account of one Enson Benmer Limited with Account No. 6152030001946, in First Bank Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act.”
The EFCC further accused the former governor of converting the sum of N20million belonging to Bayelsa State on January 5, 2010, “through the account of one John Daukoru with Account No. 04800250000418 in United Bank of Africa Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act.”
EFCC said the offences are contrary to provisions of Section 17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act), 2004 and punishable under Section 14(1) of the same Act.
In counts 5 and 6, the former governor was accused of conspiring with others to induce Union Bank Plc and actually inducing the bank “with the intent to defraud, to grant an overdraft facility of the sum of N2billion‎ under the false pretence of using the amount to augment salaries of the Bayelsa State government workers.”
The conspiracy offence in count 5, EFCC said is contrary to provisions of section 8(a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2004 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.
After the arraignment yesterday, Justice Chukwu granted bail to Sylva in the conditions and terms previously approved by the former trial judge.
The oral bail application by Sylva’s lawyer, Israel Olorundare SAN, was not opposed by the prosecuting counsel from Keyamo’s law firm, Mr. John Ainetor.
Ainetor only urged the court to grant the bail if it was willing to do so in terms which would secure the availability of the accused person in court.
The court fixed May 25 for the commencement of the case.


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