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Currency scam: Court grants bail to five accused persons

By The Citizen
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Justice Olayinka Faji of the Federal High Court, Ibadan, yesterday, granted bail to five employees of three commercial banks involved in the N8 billion mutilated currency scam.

But the court however denied bail to 10 others, including three employees of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The five officials are Ademola Adewale of Wema Bank; Kehinde Fatokun, Olukunle Sijuade of First City Monument Bank and Ajuwon Bolade and Samuel Ogbeide of Zenith Bank.

The accused were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on charges bordering on fraud, forgery and violation of the bank employees code of conduct.

The three CBN staff are Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Adeola and Togun Philip.

Others include Isaq Akano, Ayodele Adeyemi, Oyebamiji Akeem, Ayodeji Aleshe and Ajiwe Adegoke, all of First Bank Plc, and Oni Dolapo and Afolabi Olunike of Wema Bank.

Delivering his ruling on the bail applications made by the accused persons, Faji said that the prosecution failed to establish a strong case against the five for which they should be denied bail.

He said that while the court could grant or deny bail based on its discretion, bail applications could be denied, if prosecution could prove that trial could be hampered if bail was granted.

'The prosecution had not proven well enough that these five accused could attempt to jeopardise the case by concealing evidence or influencing witnesses.

'Although the offences, herein, in my view are grave as it affects the economy, yet considering the proof of evidence before me, the prosecution has no strong case against the five,' he said.

Faji, thereafter, granted each of the five accused bail in the sum of N20 million with two sureties in like sum.

The judge said that the sureties must be resident within the court's jurisdiction and have landed property in Oyo State, in addition to possessing evidence of payment of three years tax.

On the other accused persons, Faji held that their statements to the police upon their arrest suggested some level of involvement in the offences against them.

'The amount of money found in their different bank accounts and the worth of property disclosed by them, which is above their proven income, suggest that there is a strong case against them.

'Although they complied with the EFCC when they were granted administrative bail, the same may not be said of them now that they know the gravity of what lies ahead,' he said.

He, therefore, denied them bail and ordered for accelerated trial.

22 bank officials are being prosecuted by the EFCC in seven different suits.

Three of the cases are before Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel, while Faji is hearing four cases.

Faji adjourned hearing in the four suits to June 26, July 1 and July 10 while the one involving the CBN trio and the three Wema Bank employees is Sept. 24 and September 25.