Barely a month after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, filed a criminal charge against three former executives of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Ikeja branch, the commission today arraigned Adesina Ogunlana and two others for alleged stealing and money laundering.
He was docked alongside his predecessor, Yinka Farounbi, and immediate past treasurer of the association, Aderinola Kappo.
But one of the suspects, Yinka Farounbi was not arraigned even when the court had been notified of the suit, until this morning.
Recall that two other suspects walked into the court on Monday and Tuesday claiming that they were scheduled to be arraigned in court while EFCC also claimed they jumped administrative bail.
It wss however gathered that as at Monday and Tuesday Farounbi was being detained in custody of the EFCC.
However, the anti-graft agency claimed through one of its lawyers, Mr. Jaji that the first and third defendants were yet to honour the invitation of the agency in order to be served the charge against them.
When the suspects were in court this morning, the 2nd defendant was produce for arraignment by EFCC.
The defendants are standing trials on 30 count charge bodering on alleged money laundering, stealing and conspiracy.
The allegation against the three defendants is that they conspired and stole a total sum of N20, 005, 000 (Twenty million naira) belonging to the association, NBA.
The trio were alleged to have converted to their personal use the said amount into Ogunlana’s First Bank account through the issuance of cheque without authourisation between 2016 to 2018.
The prosecution informed the court that the offences are contrary to Sections 278 (1) (b) and 285 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State of Nigeria, No. 11, 2011, Conspiracy to commit felony to wit. Stealing contrary to Section 409 and 285 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No.11 Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2011.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him by EFCC.
Following their not guilty plea, the prosecution counsel led by Samuel Jaji urged the court to remanded the defendants in prison custody pending the court’s ruling on the bail application.
Jaji said: “We urge the honorable court to grant us accelerated hearing in this matter and also to remand the defendants in the prison custody.
“My lord the defendants 1st and 3rd defendants are flight risk, they jumped the administrative bail granted them by the EFCC and the 3rd defendant even gave us the address of the house she has left two-years ago and the landlord is also looking for her. They were supposed to be reporting at the EFCC office every Friday but they didn’t comply.
“These defendants have also been threatening our witnesses as well as operatives of the EFCC by agents of the 1st defendant.
“My, lord, Justice is also not for the rich alone, I urged the court to remand the defendants accordingly, afterall, governors are being kept in prison custody. There is no rich man in where to keep defendants.”
The defence counsel, Mr. Akinola Olatunde however urged the court to grant the defendants bail on liberal term.
“We literally fought the prosecution to prosecute this matter and they have been coming to court since Monday.
“The court is at discretion to admit the defendants to bail after their arraignment. The essence of bail is for defendants to be present in court. They are responsible personalities who are ready to come for the trial anytime as demonstrated in their coming since Monday,” Olatunji said.
Upon listening to both parties, Justice Mojisola Dada granted bail to the defendants on liberal term.
According to Justice Dada, she said: I have considered the case of the matter and considering the fact that the defendants are ex-officials of the Nigerian Bar Association, the court will be granting them a temporary bail.
“They are however ordered to submit their international passports to the court registrar pending the determination of their bail condition.
Further, the matter has been adjourned till June 3, 2019 for hearing of bail application and opening of the prosecution case.
Meanwhile, there was a mild drama in the court when the immediate past chairman of the Bar, Adesina Ogunlana collapsed in the dock, after taking his plea.
The former chairman who is publisher of a legal publication, Squib… the heaven will not fall collapsed when the EFCC counsel asked the court to remand his co-defendants in prison.
Though his state of health is not known to the court but he was offered a seat and water to wash his face while the prosecution counsel and the defence counsel argued his bail condition tensely.
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