By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.
The Federal government Tuesday arraigned two Chinese and a Nigerian before a Federal High Court in Abuja on allegations of criminal conspiracy, forgery and illegal transfer of funds to the tune of about N2.5b.
The defendants, Hao Aijun, Liu Yangxi and Obi Anthony Chibuzo were arraigned on a 15-count amended charge by the Inspector General of Police.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges and their lawyer, Akinlolu Kehinde SAN, informed the court of an application for their bail filed on the 14 of June, 2017.
Reacting, prosecution counsel, Mr. David Ighodo, however asked the court to remand the defendants in prison custody pending their trial, stressing that the charges preferred against them were grievous.
Igbodo, while not denying knowledge of the bail application, said bail should not precede arraignment.
He added that the prosecution would respond to the application accordingly and urged the court to remand the defendants till trial commences.
Trial Judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, however asked the prosecution if the charges against the defendants were bail able and if they have been granted bail by the police.
When the prosecution answered in the affirmative, the court then stood down the case for ten minutes and directed counsel to meet and agree on certain conditions for bail for the defendants which would be subjected to the approval of the court.
When the court resumed, Igbodo informed the court that counsel have agreed that the defendants be granted bail on the existing conditions except that their traveling documents including international passports be deposited with the court to ensure that they always attend court for their trial.
He said the police had granted the defendants bail in the sum of N5 million and a surety who was a civil servant.
However, Justice Dimgba granted the defendants bail in the sum of N100m each with two sureties in like sum. The court said the sureties who must be private or professional business persons or public servants who must not be less than grade level 15 must own landed property within Abuja metropolis.
They are also to deposit their international passports with the court and must not travel out of the country without the permission of the court.
He said he granted the bail because the defendants were already enjoying administrative bail and were also available in court to face their trial.
He however ordered that the defendants would be remanded in prison if they fail to meet the bail conditions within 48 hours.
He also adjourned till July 4 and 5, 2017 for commencement of trial.
Part of the charge reads: That you Hao Aijun ‘f’, Liu Yangxi ‘m’, Obi Anthony Chibuzo ‘m’ and others at large between July 2016 and August 2016 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, conspired among yourselves, to wit fraudulent conversion of the total sum of N971m (Nine hundred and seventy one million) naira, a fund belonging to BN Ceramics Industry Nigeria Ltd which was domiciled in the Zenith Bank Plc account number 1013840111, a fund which you know or reasonably ought to know, forms part of proceeds of an unlawful act and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18 and punishable under section 15 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended.