By Sandra Umeh
Lagos – Gbenga Makanjuola, an aide to Senate President, Bukola Saraki, standing trial for alleged N3.5 billion fraud charge, has been granted a N250 million bail by a Lagos Federal High Court.
Also granted bail in the same sum by the court, are Melrose General Services Ltd., Obiorah Amobi, (Operations Manager at Melrose), and Kolawole Shittu, a cashier, all standing trial on an 11-count N3.5 billion alleged fraud charge.
Makanjuola, a deputy chief of Staff to Saraki along with other defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charge..
Granting the defendants’ application for bail, Justice Babs Kuewumi, held that the court possessed the discretion in granting bail, which must be exercised judicially and judiciously.
Kuewumi said one of the paramount factors that the court looks at when exercising this discretion, was the ability of the accused to stand trial, as an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
He held that bail was not meant to serve as punishment, but enable the accused appear and stand trial.
“On the whole, I have not been shown any proof that the accused will not stand trial to warrant refusing bail.
“The accused are hereby granted bail in the sum of N250 million each, with two sureties each in like sum.”
The court held that the sureties must be owners of landed properties within Lagos Metropolis.
Kuewumi further held that the sureties must deposit four recent passport photographs and a letter of Identification to the Court’s Registrar as part of the bail conditions.
The case has been adjourned till Dec. 4, for trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)The reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned the defendants alleging that they committed the offence in December 2016.
It alleged that the defendants conspired to disguise the unlawful origin of the sum of N3.5 billion paid into the account of Melrose General Services Ltd.
According to the prosecution, the accused took control of the sum which was transferred from the Nigeria’s Governors Forum account, into a new generation bank account being operated by Melrose.
The prosecution said that the accused ought to have known that the sum represented proceeds of unlawful activities.
It said that the offences contravened the provisions of Sections 15, 15 (2), 15(3), 18, and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Amendment Act 2011.