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THE CASE AGAINST BANKOLE

By NBF News
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Embattled former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, will today be arraigned before a Federal High Court, Abuja on a 16 -count charge of contract inflation amounting to N894 million  by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC].

The charge sheet which specifically bordered on abuse of the Public Procurement Act was filed on Tuesday by the prosecution counsel, Festus Keyamo to confirm Daily Sun report.

But in a swift reaction, his media aide, Mr. Idowu Bakare accused the anti-graft agency of subjecting the former Speaker  to psychological torture as it has refused access to him by his team of lawyers and family members since he was abducted on Sunday night at his residence in Asokoro, Abuja.

Bankole, who would be arraigned before Justice Donatus Okorowa, would face allegations of contract inflation for the purchase of sundry items including, but not limited to electronic gadgets, vehicles and other accessories.

According to the Proof of Evidence attached to the charge sheet, the EFCC is expected to call four witnesses to prove the allegation of fraud against the former Speaker.

Besides, the Commission will further rely on contract documents for the purchase of all items contained in the charge, minutes of meeting of May 28, 2008 of Body of Principal Officers, statement of witnesses and those of the accused persons.

Some of the charges read:
'That you, Dimeji Bankole and others now at large on or about the 28th of May, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, being Body of Principal officers of the House of Representatives responsible for the approval of contracts in the House of Representatives, with intent to defraud, did conspire amongst yourselves to inflate the cost of 400 units of 40-inch Samsung (LNS.3410 television sets by approving the purchase of the said item at the rate of N525, 000.00 per unit, instead of the prevailing market price of N295, 000.00 and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 58 (4) (a) of the Public Procurement Act No. 14 of 2007 and punishable under Section 58 (5) of the same Act.

'That you, Dimeji Bankole and others now at large, on or about the 28th of May, 2008 within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court  being body of principal officers of the House of Representatives responsible for the approval of contracts in the House of Representatives , with intent to defraud, rigged the bid for the purchase of 100 units of Sharp  Digital Copier 5316 by refusal to follow all the procedures prescribed for public procurements in Sections 17 to 56 of the Public Procurement Act N0.14 of 2007, leading to a loss of value to the national treasury and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 58 (4) (e) of the Public Procurement Act, No.14 of 2007 and punishable under Section 58 (5) of the same Act.'

'That you, Dimeji Bankole and others now at large, on or about the 28th of May, 2008 within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court  being body of principal officers of the House of Representatives responsible for the approval of contracts in the House of Representatives , with intent to defraud, rigged the bid for the purchase of three units of Mercedes Benz S-600 cars by refusal to follow all the procedures prescribed for public procurements in Sections 17 to 56 of the Public Procurement Act No.14 of 2007, leading to a loss of value to the national treasury and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 58 (4) (e) of the Public Procurement Act, No.14 of 2007 and punishable under Section 58 (5) of the same Act.'

But in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Bakare accused the EFCC of embarking onpsychological torture of the former Speaker.

It reads, 'the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is presently subjecting Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole the former Speaker of the House of Representatives to psychological torture as it has refused access to him by his team of lawyers and family members since he was abducted on Sunday night at his residence in Asokoro, Abuja.

'This is against his fundamental and constitutional rights to have access to his lawyers and close family members while in custody of the anti- graft agency.

Information at our disposal indicates that pressure was mounted on him throughout Sunday night to get him to write a statement implicating some members of the House of Representatives.

'As we earlier alerted, the manner EFCC has gone about the invitation of the former Speaker and the subsequent media trial and prosecution with EFCC feeding unsuspecting public with such fiction of the former Speaker resisting arrest, under house arrest and attempting to flee the country even as No. 4 citizen of Nigeria shows that the agency is engaged in political witchhunting and vendetta against the former Speaker.

'So far, the ant- graft agency, even without concluding investigation has portray Bankole as guilty from its utterances and selective persecution and is refusing to charge him to court to decide on the case as stipulated by the law within a time limit.

We understand that not making headway with Bankole, the EFCC has perfected plans to start harassing members of his family starting with his immediate family.

'As reported in the media yesterday, EFCC went to search his house where his wife and two children were domiciled and harassed the wife, a trend that is now common with EFCC. We believe that the agency should have isolated the wife from such treatment of a man, who is still presumed innocent

'We gathered that EFCC has not forgiven comments credited to Bankole by Wikkileaks to the effect that EFCC is not 'worth a penny' even after Bankole has publicly denied making such a statement about the organization months ago,' the statement read in part.

That the former Speaker was arrested Sunday evening in his Asokoro residence by EFCC operatives after a four-hour standoff.