From Tony John, Port Harcourt
A man has been nabbed by the police in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in a racket involving N15 million for procurement of US Dollars in a foreign exchange deal gone sour.
Pressure is also said to mount on the police and all those involved to get the accused person out of detention and off the case.
The accused, who gave his name as Salihu Nasiru Ibrahim, 22, and is said to be the son of a Director at the National Agricultural Biotechnology Development Agency in Abuja, is now standing trial at the Port Harcourt Chief Magistrate Court 10 presided over by A.O Amadi-Nna.
According to a charge sheet made available to newsmen, Ibrahim was accused of obtaining the N15 million from one Grace Ogolo to help her change it at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to Dollars at the government rate but did not change it and did not return the money since July 2022.
The charge sheet prepared by a Superintendent of Police (SP), Sewari Alpheaus, said the offence contravened Section 1 (b,c) and is punishable under Section 1 (2,3) of the Advance Fee Fraud Laws of the Federation 2006.
Count two alleged that Ibrahim forged Police Identity Card to be regarded as a police officer. The prosecution said other forgeries would be unveiled as the case would progress.
When the case was called up on Monday, for bail, the defence team led by Leticia Mukoro, quoted Section 18 of Magistrate Court Law of 2004, which, she said empowered the court to grant bail to the accused.
Mukoro said the Supreme Court’s position was that as long as the case did not have capital punishment, bail could be granted by the Chief Magistrate.
She mentioned that there was an existing relationship between the defendant and complainant who she said knew that Ibrahim was not a staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or Bureau De Change (BDC) to expect him to change money into foreign exchange.
She also said settlement of the case was underway, and that the accused was a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who should be allowed to go out and serve his fatherland.
The prosecutor, however immediately opposed the bail plea.
Supporting the opposition for bail, Benjamin Awuse, the oversight counsel for the complainant, said in the statement by the accused had admitted committing the listed offences.
He said further particulars of the charge indicated that a serious felony was committed by forging police identity and forging a university degree with which Ibrahim wants to serve in the NYSC.
The counsel told the court that the accused might not come back to the court because of other things to be revealed when the trial commences.
Above all, he said, the court did not have jurisdiction to grant bail.
On hope for a settlement, he said the parties were not discussing such a thing.
In an interview outside the court, Awuse told court reporters that calls placed by the victim to the father of the accused, Dr Nasiru Ibrahim; Director: National Agriculture Biotechnology Development Agency, Abuja, were ignored and that calls to his mother also were not accepted.
The counsel said there was no basis to think of granting bail in the prevailing circumstances.
Meanwhile, the Chief Magistrate has fixed January 23, 2023, for ruling on the bail application.