By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Director of Finance and Accounts in the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Ibrahim Tumsah and his brother Tijani Tumsah, have been arraigned over failure to declare their assets.
Ibrahim and his brother Tijani who is also a staff of the Ministry, were docked before Justice Edward Ekwo of the Federal High Court, by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.
Specifically, the defendants are being prosecuted for refusing and neglecting to declare their assets to the special panel.
According to the prosecutor, the offences is contrary to and punishable under Section 3 (3) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provision) Act, 2004.
The presidential panel had on February 8, 2018, docked the Tumsah brothers before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Before Justice Dimgba, the duo had pleaded not guilty to the criminal charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/4/2018.
But in April, their trial was stalled as the then Federal Government prosecutor, Festus Keyamo SAN, applied to withdraw the charge.
Consequently, Justice Dimgba had to strike out the charge.
However, almost eight months after the initial two-count charge was struck out, the presidential probe panel, led by Obono Obla, relisted the suit labelled “incidental charge” due to alleged non cooperation of the mega-rich public servants with investigators.
Basically, the fresh two-count charge centres on the refusal and neglect by the two brothers to cooperate with the panel over declaration of their assets.
The fresh charge was contained in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CR/78/2018.
Consequent upon arraignment before Justice Ekwo on Tuesday, the Tumsah brothers again pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge.
At the proceeding, Celsus Ukpong, announced appearance for the presidential panel, Abdul Mohammed represented the first defendant (Ibrahim Tumsah) while Bamikole Aduloju entered appearance for Tijani Tumsah.
Meanwhile, the two defendants were granted bail to the tune of N10million each, with one surety in like sum.
The judge also barred them from travelling abroad without leave of court, directing that they should deposit their valid international passports with the registrar of the court.
Also, the court ordered that the sureties must be owners of landed properties within the jurisdiction of the court.
The title deeds of the landed properties must be duly verified by the court and the originals submitted to the registrar of the court.
More so, Justice Ekwo ordered that the defendants be remanded in prison custody if they fail to fulfill the bail condition.
Meantime, the matter has been adjourned to January 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 2019 for commencement of their trial.