Update: Former FCT Minister Bala Mohammed Arraigned, Remanded

Immediate past Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, facing alleged gratification charges by the Federal government was on Wednesday, remanded in Kuje Prison pending the determination of his bail application.
Justice Abubakar Talba of the FCT High Court sitting in Gudu, Abuja, gave the order following the arraignment of the accused and his subsequent plea of not guilty.
The former Minister is standing trial on a six count charge of corruption and abuse of office preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), while he served as Minister of the FCT.
He was accused of receiving gratification to the tune of N550m while in office as Minister.
He is also accused of failing to declare properties belonging to him.
When the charges were read to him, Wednesday, Mohammed pleaded not guilty to all of them.
His counsel, Chris Uche SAN immediate move an application for his bail which was opposed by prosecution counsel led by Ben Ikani.
In arguing his bail application, Uche SAN, prayed the court to grant him bail on self re-cognisance.
He told the court that the defendant has filed a motion in pursuant to relevant sections of the law and urged the court to grant the defendant bail.
“Bail in a trial matter is a constitutional right and the onus lies on the prosecution to show course while bail should not be granted.
“The defendant is a responsible and prominent citizen who will make himself available to stand trial”, he said.
“I also want the court to consider the health condition of the defendant because he needs to be healthy and alive to stand trial. As it is today, the defendant is ill and will need to attend to his health condition”, he added.
The SAN therefore, prayed the court to grant senator Mohamed bail on self re-cognisance in his capacity as a former minister of the Federal Republic.
Prosecution counsel, Ben Ikani, who vehemently opposed the application prayed the court to reject the application.
He also urged the court to take cognizance of the medical certificate presented to the court by the defendant saying the date on the certificate was as far back as July 14,2016.
“The certificate exhibited attracts issues of concern that will affect the mind of the court.
“My submission is that the certificate exhibited here is not relevant to the health concern of the defendant because to me he looks healthy.
“Moreover, we have medical facilities in the country that can attend to what ever health concerns affecting the defendant.
“I urged the court to refuse the application and grant the defendant bail on very stringent conditions”, he submitted.
He also argued that even though the court has power to exercise discretion, it should bear in mind that the rule of law should not be ignored vis a vis the interest of justice.
After taking submission from both counsel on the merit and demerit of the application, Justice Talba adjourned till May 12 for ruling on the application for bail.
He also ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody pending the determination of the bail application.
Some of the charges read in part: “That you Senator Bala Mohammed while being the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja sometime in 2014 in Abuja, within the judicial division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did accept gratification of a house worth N 550,000,000 (five hundred and fifty million naira) situated at No. 2599 and 2600, cadastral zone, A04, Asokoro district, Abuja from Aso savings and loans bank PLC as reward for performing your official duty and you thereby committed an offence contrary to S 18(b) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Acts 2000 and punishable under section 18(d) of the same act.”

Author: News Editor

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