The embattled former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole is to spend the weekend in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday adjourned ruling on his formal bail
application till Monday, 12 June 2011.
The decision of Justice Donatus Okorowo jolted some of his women supporters who
openly shed tears in court upon hearing the judge’s pronouncement. But Bankole
The court also heard how a mobile policeman attached to the former speaker
informed a security operative attached to the EFCC on how Bankole allegedly plotted
to escape from Abuja to the United Kingdom (UK) on Monday before he was arrested
on Sunday night.
To prosecute the case, the EFCC said it was ready to call witnesses day by day, asking
for accelerated hearing.
Bankole is facing a 16-count charge of contract inflation and awards without due
process slammed against him by the anti-graft agency.
Justice Okorowo, who expressed his willingness to decide the application on time,
said due to time constraints and the plethora of authorities cited by parties, he
needed time to give a considered ruling.
The matter, which initially began at 12 noon, was stood down till later in the day
on request by Bankole’s counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) who wanted to
reply to the counter-affidavit of the prosecution counsel, Mr. Festus Keyamo.
On resumption, Awomolo, who moved the bail application, urged the court to admit
Bankole to bail on self recognition.
He described as hearsay and speculative the claims by the EFCC that the accused
person would jump bail if granted.
Awomolo argued that the fear that an accused person will run away or jump bail
is not a reason in law for denying bail, because to jump bail has its own criminal
Urging the court to discountenance the EFCC, Awomolo cited a Court of Appeal
decision in Ibori V Federal Republic of Nigeria, which overruled such claim by
holding that an accused person would only jump bail at his own peril.
Besides, he submitted that "the world is now a global village where criminals have no
hiding place," adding that court can only act on legally admissible evidence, whether
oral or documentary.
Awomolo contended that certain claims in the EFCC counter-affidavit deposed to by
one Oriogun Folajinmi offended Section 76, 86, 87, 88 and 89, saying all facts except
content of a document could be proven by oral evidence.
Consequently, he urged the court to discountenance paragraphs 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 21,
22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29 and 31 which, according to him, are speculative opinions and
conclusions which only a court can determine.
Countering the bail application, Keyamo urged the court to refuse it.
At this time, Bankole looked in the direction of Keyamo with his face squeezed,
shifted on the seat provided for him in the dock and then lowered his gaze in
amazement. He lost his composure momentarily but tried to force a smile which
rapidly disappeared. His mood completely changed.
Keyamo chronicled how the commission traced Bankole from his official residence
in the National Assembly Legislator’s Quarters, Apo, Abuja, to his Guest House in
highbrow Asokoro in Abuja.
He referred to the counter-affidavit deposed to by Folajinmi, where he averred
that ‘’around 8 am on Sunday June 5, 2011, while carrying out my undercover
assignments at the Gust House of the Applicant located in Asokoro, I was informed
by a mobile Police officer attached to the Applicant that the Accused/Applicant had
concluded plans to escape from Abuja to the United Kingdom by 7 a.m on Monday,
7th of June, 2011 flight through Lagos by a British Airline. This flight was later re-
scheduled for 10 a.m."
Keyamo said the commission was not under any obligation to disclose the name of
the mobile policeman that gave information on Bankole as argued by Awomolo.
Referring to the Ibori’s case cited by the defence counsel, Keyamo urged the court to
note that he (Ibori) jumped bail granted him and since then trial has been stalled.
"That case is a bad case for a defence to rely on, because Ibori eventually ran away
and up till now trial is stalled in that case."
Keyamo submitted that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against
Bankole, and that many of the paragraphs in the bail applications did not meet the
requirement of law in considering bail application.
Citing a few paragraphs in the affidavit in support of the bail application, Keyamo
said there is no decision that says bail could be granted because an accused person
has two young children and aged parents as claimed by Bankole.
Meanwhile, the embattled former Speaker has raised the alarm over plans by the
EFCC to re-arrest him.
In a letter to the Commission by his counsel, Chief Awomolo, Bankole said he
heard from competent sources that the EFCC had perfected plans to re-arrest him
immediately he is admitted to bail by the court.
The letter dated June 9, reads in part: "We were further informed that the
Commission’s operatives will re-arrest our client immediately he is admitted to bail
on the grounds that the Commission requires him in respect of investigations of
other allegations made against him not related to the charges before the court.
"We wish to bring it to your notice that the Commission, as a public authority, should
not misuse the statutory power of arrest and detention. Our client has no intention to
run away from this country or avoid justice.
"We undertake that if the court grants him bail, he will not obstruct any officer of
the Commission in the discharge of their duties. He will make himself available for
interview or interrogation at any time he receives the invitation of the Commission."