Justice Nmandi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, Abuja, ruled, Wednesday, that Abba Moro and others facing a 11 count charge bordering on flouting of Procument Act, money laundering and fraud related case should continue to enjoy the bail granted them by Justice Chikere of a Feferal High Court, Abuja, in March, on self-recognition.
The case marked FC/ABJ/CR/42/16 was reassigned after Justice Chikere, on April 27, 2016, in a dramatic twist washed her hands off the trial of the former Minister of Interior, citing personal reasons.
At the resumed hearing Wednesday, after the plea had been taken afresh by the defendants, lead prosecution counsel, Aliu Majindadi, said he was at across road whether the defendants should be remanded in prison custody before re-arraignment or continued to enjoy earlier bail granted.
He said because the accused have been arraigned afresh, they ought to be committed to fresh bail conditions.
But Chris Uche, counsel for the second defendant argued the the bail continues as far as the charges, parties, counts remain the same. And there had been no evidence that the defendants defrauded on bail conditions, and that prosecution has not brought any application before the court in respect of revocation of the Bail.
He pleaded the bail already granted should continue.
The proosecution countered that though it is true that amended charges, parties and counts remain the same but the accused are before another court and Judge. “I thought bail application should also be taken afresh”, he said.
A. T. Kehinde, counsel for the first defendant, in supporting Uche, argured that bail already granted by another court can only be revoked if the accused jumped bail, or the amended charge is different, or there is serious application before the court to revoke the bail.
He therefore noted that it was the discretion of the Judge to exercise such power bearing in mind the seriousness of the application the prosecution brings before the court that the the bail conditions have been flouted. ” That is, if for instance the charge before was human slaughter but now amended to murder, we can talk of revocation of the bail. But in this case there is no such.
“!y Lord, we are ready for trial, the prosecution is ready for trial, my application is that we should go ahead to the meat of the matter”, Kehinde said.
The Judge in a short ruling said the Constitution vested on him such decretion and that Moro and others should continue to enjoy their bail.
The case was then adjourned till June 8 and 9, 2016, for trial to commence.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned Moro and others, on February 29 on an 11-count charge bordering on obtaining by false pretence, procurement fraud and money laundering.
Moro was arraigned alongside three others for their roles in the botched March 15, 2014 immigration recruitment exercise that killed no fewer than 20 job seekers across the country.
His co-accused are: Permanent Secretary of the Ministry at the time, Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia; a Deputy Director in the Ministry and the contracting firm given the recruitment job, Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd.
The EFCC accused the defendants of defrauding 676,675 Nigerian applicants of N676,675,000 (Six Hundred and Seventy Six Million, Six Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand Naira).
Each of the 676,675 applicants were charged N1,000 each for the participating in the recruitment exercise.
The anti-graft agency also accused the defendants of flouting the Public Procurement Act, No. 65 of 2007 in the award of the contract for the organisation of the recruitment test to Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd.
The EFCC said Drexel EFCC had no prior advertisement and no needs assessment and procurement plan was carried out before the contract was awarded.
According to the anti-graft agency, the contract was awarded through selective tendering procedure by invitation of 4 (Four) firms without seeking the approval of the Bureau for Public Procurement, contrary to sections 40, 42 and 43 of the Public Procurement Act, No.65 of 2007 and punishable under section 58 of the same act, among other charges.