The Sokoto State High Court has granted bail to the five management staff of the Sokoto State Primary Staff Pension Board who allegedly diverted over five hundred million naira meant for the payment of pension and gratuities of some retired teachers in the state
The officials of the Sokoto State Primary Staff Pension Board granted bail include Abubakar Aliyu, Hassana Moyi, Haliru Ahmad, Kabiru Ahmad and Dahiru Muhammad Isa who were Secretary, Director of Finance and Supply, deputy Director of Finance and Supply, Accountant and Cashier of the board.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Muhammad Muhammad granted them bail in the sum of N55 million each with one surety in like sum who must be a resident of Sokoto and owned a landed property within the state.
Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Sa’ad Hannafi had earlier objected to the bail application on ground that, some of the defendants were flight risks.
He says they had earlier told the EFCC that they are travelling out of the country.
He says the granting of bail is at the discretion of the court.
However, such discretion must be exercised judicially and judiciously, where the defendants have placed substantial materials for the consideration of the court.
According to the counsel, there is nothing before the court to enable it exercise its discretion in their favour.
He says the defendants are standing trial for a very serious offences bordering on huge amount of money, which upon conviction, their conviction will attract severe punishment.
According to him, where that is the position, they should not be granted bail.
He cited Ishaya Bamaiyi vs the state, 2001 and one other case to buttress his argument.
The EFCC counsel says It is his client submission to the court that, the issue of administrative bail relied upon by the counsel to the defendants is insignificant because the bail had elapsed with their arraignment before the court.
He they are now property of the court therefore the court should be wary of releasing them.
He is also concerned that the defendants had earlier jumped the administrative bail granted to them during investigation.
He is also worried the defendants post a high risk of interfering with the prosecution witnesses as some of them were at the mercy of the defendants.
While defending his bail application, counsel to the defendants, A Y Abubakar urged the court to grant his application as prayed, arguing that, the defendants ” are responsible men and woman as well as responsible civil servant of the state.
He says the defendants have been enjoying their administrative bail granted to them by the EFCC.
He assured that he have the undertaking of his clients, that none of the conditions stipulated under sec 161 (a-f) will be breached.
The defendants are facing twenty eight count-charge bordering on on forgery, criminal breach of trust and misappropriation which were contrary to sections 92 (2), 311 of the Penal Code law CAP 89, Laws of Northern Nigeria and Sections 351, 353, 348 of the Sokoto Penal Code law 2019.
The case was adjourned till July, 26 for the commencement of hearing