By Musa Solomon Yola
An Adamawa State High Court judge Monday granted bail to convicted former governor of Adamawa state Mr Bala Ngilari, on health grounds, after he appealed against his recent conviction.
But the bail is raising dust as reports monitored on online newspaper, Premium Times, is stating that the head of the Adamawa Prisons is claiming he is unaware of a letter tendered by his subordinate which made bail possible.
Justice Nathan Musa who presided over the case granted bail to Ngillari, who is serving a five year jail term in Yola main prison, in the sum of N100 million with two sureties, who must deposit Certificates of Occupancy of landed property owned in Yola.
The presiding judge who last month sentence Ngillari to prison said that the former governor would enjoy his bail pending the determination of his appeal.
The former governor is serving his term, without an option of fine, for violating the Public Procurement Act in the award of contract for the procurement of 25 vehicles at the sum of N168.7 million to an unknown female contractor.
Justice Musa, in his judgement, had declared that due process was not followed in the transaction and that the action of the governor was “executive rascality.”
Ngilari, having appealed the sentence at the Court of Appeal, went back to the same court that convicted him, and asked for bail, pending the determination of his Appeal.
Justice Musa, after listening to arguments of counsel to Ngilari, Mr Sam Olugunorisa (SAN) and that of EFCC, Mr Abubakar Aliyu, in the motion for bail pending Appeal, granted Ngillari’s request.
The bail plea was supported by a medical report on Ngillari, from Yola Prison, which indicated that the former governor had been under intensive medical management.
The report, signed by Mr John Bukar, a Deputy Comptroller in charge of Health, stated that Ngillari has diabetes, hypertension and insomnia.
It said that Ngilari, who had been referred to Canada Specialist Hospital in Dubai, for evaluation and management, had blood pressure that was rising between 180/110 MMHG to 190/120 MMHG.
According to Premium Times, Peter Tenkwa, the Controller of Adamawa Command of the Nigerian Prison Service, NPS, told journalists on Monday in Yola that he was not aware of the letter and had communicated to the prison headquarters.
He said the headquarters directed him to issue a query to officials involved in the matter, including the Deputy Controller of Yola Prison, Abubakar Abaka, and a Superintendent of Prisons, John Bukar, in charge of health.
“Nigeria Prison Service, as I stated, knows nothing about this letter; whoever wrote that letter is on his own. I have been directed to query the officers involved.”
Mr. Tenkwa said that all he knew was that he got a letter dated March 23 from Adamawa Ministry of Justice on health facilities in Yola Prison where Mr. Ngilari was remanded and that after accessing the facilities, he replied to the letter, informing the ministry that the facilities were okay.
State Attorney -General and Commissioner for Justice, Bala Sanga, said the bail granted Mr. Ngilari was a disturbing development.
“The chamber of attorney general is very worried and disturbed about this granting of bail pending appeal to our former governor; this is a legal remedy that is very rarely granted.”
Mr. Sanga said that he was more disturbed that the letter acted on in granting the bail was not exhibited with the appellant’s application nor attached to the documents.
“Technically what this means is that the letter was not even before the court.
“So, the court, in my opinion, has no business relying on a document that was not before it to arrive at a decision.”
Mr. Sanga said that the purported letter claiming that Ngilari was facing serious health problem was dated March 23, while the letter to the ministry from the prison service, which confirmed that the authorities had the necessary facilities to handle Mr. Ngilari, was dated March 24.
“This is very scandalous, if indeed the prison says it did not issue the letter.
“We intend not to file a complaint against whoever wrote that letter but to refer the matter to the police for prosecution because the court relied significantly on that letter to grant the bail,” Mr. Sanga said.
Mr. Sanga said that the disease was not contagious hence the bail was unnecessary.