Justice Adeyinka Faji of the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan on Thursday fixed June 19 to rule on bail applications by eight bank officials charged with N8 billion currency scam.Law

The bank officials, including three Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) employees, were arraigned on June 3 on a 28-count charge by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The CBN officials are Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Adeola and Togun Kayode.

Also joined in the suit were five employees of First Bank Plc – Isiak Akano, Ayodele Festus, Oyebamiji Akeem, Ayodeji Aleshe and Ajiwe Sunday

The charges preferred against them bordered on fraud, having assets in excess of their income, making false entries in the books and account of the CBN and forgery.

At the resumption of the case, Faji adjourned after a six hours of arguments by counsel to the prosecution and defence, who urged the court to adopt their written addresses and oral argument against and in support of bail for the accused.

The defence counsel urged the court to grant their clients bail pending the determination of the substantive suit.

They argued that bail should be granted at the discretion of the court and not refused based on the sentiment that the accused would jump bail because of the weight of the charges against them.

Mr Olalekan Ojo, counsel to the second and third accused, said that the onus was placed on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused if granted bail would evade their trial.

According to him, there must be factual evidence that the accused would jump bail.

Also in his submission, Mr Nathaniel Oke (SAN), counsel to the fourth accused, said that the charges against his client were bailable and urged the court to grant him bail.

In his own submission, Mr Michael Lana, counsel for the fifth and eight accused, urged the court to dismiss the argument by the prosecution that the accused person would interfere with the witnesses.

Mr Olayinka Bolanle, the counsel to the first accused, faulted the request by the EFCC that the accused should not be granted bail but rather the court should order accelerated hearing of the case.

According to him, an order for accelerated hearing of a criminal matter cannot be a substitute for bail.

He urged the court to grant the accused bail to enable counsel have access to them.

However, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, counsel to EFCC, urged the court not to grant the accused bail in view of the enormity of the charge and the fact that the CBN officials had multiple charges in seven other suits.

Jacobs also told the court that if granted bail the accused would interfere with its witnesses.

He said that some of the accused had threatened the witnesses and in view of this they should not be granted bail.

The EFCC said that the offences committed by the accused contravened Section 8(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.

It said that the offence also contravened Section 7(2) of the Bank Employees etc, (Declaration of Assets) Act Cap B1, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that all the accused pleaded not guilty to the 28-count charge at their arraignment on June 3. (NAN)

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