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Court grants Oyo-Ita N100m bail after lawyer raised concerns about coronavirus

A federal high court in Abuja has granted N100m bail to Winifred Oyo-Ita, former head of service.

Oyo-Ita and eight others pleaded “not guilty” to an 18-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N570m.

Paul Erokoro, who represented Oyo-Ita, asked the court to grant his client bail considering the coronavirus pandemic.

“In view of the state of the world where there is clear and present danger to life, it will be unhealthy to be kept in custody under congested conditions,” Erokoro said.

He pleaded with the EFCC counsel to allow him argue the bail application despite being served in court.

Erokoro then prayed the court to admit his client to bail.

He said Oyo-Ita is “not at flight risk as both passports she has are with the EFCC”.

Responding, Mohammed Abubakar, the prosecution counsel, said though he is entitled to some days to enable him respond to the bail application, he would not ask for an adjournment owing to the current health crisis.

But he added: “Regarding the 1st defendant, the information at my disposal is that our officers have serious problems trying to serve her the charges and bring her before the court for arraignment.”

He asked the court to impose “tough terms and conditions that would ensure the availability of the defendants to face trial”.

Ruling on the bail application, Taiwo, the judge, commended the prosecution counsel for relinquishing his right to oppose the bail application. He added that the court has also taken judicial notice of the pandemic ravaging the world.

Taiwo granted N100m bail to Oyo-Ita. She is to produce two sureties in like sum who must be civil servants of grade level 17. Both sureties must be resident in Abuja.

One of the sureties must have a property worth N100m within the federal capital territory (FCT) while the other must be gainfully employed. They must also show affidavits of means to the registrar of the court.

The fourth and seventh defendants were also granted bail in the sum of N50m each. They must also provide two sureties who are civil servants not less than grade level 17.

One of the sureties must also have a property worth the bail bond in Abuja.

All the defendants must submit their passports to the court.

Pending the fulfilment of their bail conditions, the judge released them to their various counsels whose duty is to ensure that they report to the office of the EFCC for the next days between the hours of 10am and 12pm. If they fail to meet the bail conditions within the next seven days, their bail would be revoked

Others arraigned alongside are Frontline Ace Global Services Limited; Asanaya Projects Limited; Garba Umar and his companies: Slopes International Limited; Gooddeal Investments Limited; Ubong Okon Effiok and his own company, U & U Global Services Limited and Prince Mega Logistics Limited.

The defendants were accused of fraud in relation to duty tour allowances (DTA); Estacodes; conference fees fraud and receiving kickbacks on contracts

The EFCC said investigations revealed that “Oyo-Ita, in her roles in the civil service as director, permanent secretary and head of service, used her companies as well as Effiok’s and Umar’s companies as fronts to receive kickbacks from contractors of various ministries and parastatals where she worked”.

Credit: TheCable