Justice Muslim Sule Hassan of a Federal High Court, Lagos, today admitted the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State, Mr. Clement Faboyede, who was docked by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged N500 million fraud to bail.
Faboyede’s co-accused, Modupe Adetokunbo, the Director General of PDP Campaign Organization in Ondo state during the 2015 General election, was also admitted to bail by the court.
In a ruling on the two accused persons’ bail application on Thursday, Justice Hassan said he is in agreement with their lawyer’s submission that the offences upon which the duo were arraigned are bailable.
The judge listed factors to be considered in deciding the bail application to include the nature of the charge, the severity of the punishment and the likelihood of the repetition of the offence.
“The sole issue for determination is whether or not the defendants are entitled to bail pending trial bearing in mind that the essence of bail is to ensure the attendance of the defendants for their trial.
“The defendants were arraigned before this court on a 3-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering. According to the provisions of the Money Laundering Act, the punishment for the offence is a jail term not less than 2 years or an option of fine. I am in agreement with the defence lawyer that the alleged offence is bailable”, he said.
Justice Hassan also faulted the grounds upon which the prosecution is opposing the bail application.
The judge said: “The prosecution cannot oppose bail merely on routine procedure. There must be a cogent reason for opposing bail. The allegations against the defendants remains mere allegations until it is decided one way or the other by the court.
“In arriving at the decision whether to grant or refuse bail, it is my duty as a judicial officer to balance the interests of the state, defendants and that of the general public in coming to a judicious conclusion. In doing this, I am of the view that the judicious discretion in the circumstance of this case is to grant bail to the defendants applicants.
“More so, the defendants applicants were earlier granted bail by the prosecution prior to their arraignment and there was no evidence to show that they jumped the bail. Having regard to the foregoing, the defendants applicants application for bail succeeds and bail is hereby granted”.
The judge consequently admitted the defendants to bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety each in like sum.
The sureties, according to the judge, must either be federal or state civil servants, not below the rank of level 15 or landed property owners within the court’s jurisdiction.
The sureties were directed to deposit the title documents of the property and two passport size photographs each at the court’s registry and same must be verified by the Department’s Head.
The defendants were also ordered to deposit their international passport at the court’s registry while the prosecution was given a week to authenticate the documents submitted by the sureties.
Shortly after the ruling, defence lawyer, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) urged the court to release the defendants to him pending the time their bail conditions will be perfected.
He said: “In giving effect to the bail, I urge the court to consider allowing the applicants deposit their international passports immediately pending the satisfaction of the other bail conditions. I also on my honour as a senior counsel confirm that they will be around to meet the other conditions. The defendants should be released temporarily to me pending the the fulfillment of the conditions”.
Justice Hassan later granted the request and adjourned further hearing in the matter to September 17 for commencement of trial.