BLOATED WAGE BILL: COURT TO RULE ON SUSPECTS BAIL APPLICATION ON MAY 17
A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa has fixed Thursday May 17 for ruling on the bail application filed by suspects arraigned by the Bayelsa State Government in connection with the bloated wage bill in the state.
The 13 suspects who are senior civil servants have been in Police custody since there arrest and they pleaded not guilty when the charges preferred against them were read.
At the mention of the case, the presiding Judge, Justice R.M Aikawa requested from the counsel of the applicants and the prosecuting counsel if the affidavit and counter affidavit have been served by both parties.
While U Saiyou, Iwolo Ibeni and E.M Figilo standing for the applicants insisted that their affidavit were served on May 9, which was enough for the prosecuting team to file a counter affidavit, the prosecuting counsel, Henry Ogbeiwi argued that, while some were served on May 9, some were served on May 10.
Justice Aikawa who went through his records agreed with the applicants counsel that the prosecuting team was served on time, he decided to stand the case down for one hour, to allow the prosecuting counsel go through the papers served in and point out any objections to the court.
At 12:00p.m when the case was called again, the applicants, counsel prayed the Court to dismiss the arguments of the prosecuting counsel in opposing the bail application.
Figolo who pointed out some paragraphs in the counter affidavit, which he considered defective prayed the court to throw out the prosecuting counsel objection.
Justice Aikawa after listening to the arguments from both parties said he should be allowed the opportunity to go through the affidavit and counter affidavit and said he would ruled on the bail tomorrow.
In an interview, Ogbewi said as the prosecuting counsel, he is opposing the bail application because the gravity of the offence attracts a 21-year jail term.
According to him, there are some of the other suspects who are at large and if the suspects in police custody are released on bail there is every possibility that they have the opportunity to make contact with them in the bid to frustrate the case.
Ogbewi added that there is danger in releasing the suspects on bail because once they are released they would return to look and have access to vital documents that should be used against them.
Ibeni also in an interview said the offence they alleged the applicants committed is bailable, adding that the charges preferred against them are mere allegations.
He stated that though it is the discretion of the Court to grant bail, there is optimism that the bail application would scale through, since the constitution grants the accused fundamental rights of freedom unless they are convicted.