By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, granted N300million bail to the Director General of National Broadcasting Commission, Ishaq Kawu Modibbo.
The bail condition was also extended to Sir Lucky Omoluwa, Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Ltd, and Dipo Onifade.
The defendants, who were arraigned on the allegation of fraud in the digital switch over project of the Federal Government, pleaded not guilty to the 12-count charge brought against them by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
Following the not guilty plea by the defendants, counsel to Modibbo, Abdullahi Mustapha SAN, prayed the court to grant him bail since their was a medical report filed before the court showing that the 1st defendant (Modibbo) is having health challenge.
Relying on sections 158, 159 and 162 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, he posited that the defendant is presumed innocence until the decision of the court said otherwise.
He also drew the attention of the court to the fact that has Modibbo being on administrative bail.
Reacting, counsel to ICPC, Henry Emore, objected the application and informed the court that Modibbo jumped bail and did not honour invitation.
However, Mustapha denied the allegation, and urged the ICPC lawyer to provide proof.
Similarly, Alex Iziyon SAN, counsel to Onifade (2nd) and Omoluwa (3rd) defendants moved the bail application of Omoluwa since the prosecution did not oppose that of Onifade.
Izinyon submitted that the offence “is a bailable one under the Constitution, ACJA and ICPC Act.
In addition, Iziyon had argued that bail was at the discretion of the court, which must be exercised judicially and judiciously.
Again, the ICPC lawyer opposed the bail application on the ground that the applicant had refused to honour its invitation since he was granted administrative bail.
He however, urged the court, that in the event that it should grant bail to the defendants, it should be on stringent terms to make them attend trial.
But Izinyon insisted that the 3rd defendant did not jump bail, and demanded proof from the prosecution.
Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, in her ruling, granted each of the three defendants bail in the sum of N100 million with two sureties each in the like sum.
Other conditions for the bail are that the sureties most be property owner in FCT as well as depose an affidavit of means.
Justice Giwa also held that title deeds of the property must be verified and submitted to the court.
Besides, the court said the sureties must be resident in FCT, not less than level 17 in public service, and must show evidence of tax payment in the last 3 years.
Justice Giwa also ordered the defendants to deposit their international passports with the registrar of the court, as well as submit two recent passport photographs to the registrar of the court.
However, the court gave the defendants 10 days to fulfil the bail conditions or risk being remanded in prison custody.
She ordered the defendants are to remain with the ICPC until they perfect their bail conditions.
Meanwhile, trial of the defendants begins today, Friday May 3.