Temporary reprieve came the way of the former Governor of Oyo State, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala and two others standing trial on charges of abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud Oyo State of about N 25 billion as they were granted bail by Justice Moshood Abass of an Ibadan High Court on Thursday.
Delivering his ruling, Justice Abass noted that the three accused persons filed three applications for bail citing ill health of the first and third accused persons as ground for admitting them to bail.
He also mentioned the argument that the absence of the Commissioner of Oath’s stamp renders the counter affidavit incurably defective.
He also mentioned that Prosecuting Counsel, Godwin Obla had argued that the right to liberty granted by the constitution is enshrined in lawful conduct. He also pointed it out that the Section 118 of the constitution quoted by the counsel states that the right to liberty can be withdrawn where the conduct is dangerous to the society.
The judge also pointed out that the prosecuting counsel also submitted that the more serious the offence, the greater the incentive to jump bail. While reading his ruling, the judge also mentioned the prosecution’s argument that the fact that a person is ill does not mean that he should be released on bail, and that the first accused person, Otunba Alao-Akala is not bothered about his health.
While delivering his ruling, Justice Abass said it was necessary to distinguish between offences for which an accused could be admitted to bail and offences for which bail cannot be granted. He quoted from Section 118 (1) of the Criminal Act and highlighted the relevant provision that a person charged with any offence punishable by death may not be admitted to bail except by a judge of the High Court. Speaking further, Justice Abass said the precept is that a person charged with any offence not punishable by death can be admitted to bail except the court sees reason not to.
Justice Abass said the three accused persons are not standing trial for a capital offence, he said they may thus be granted bail.
The judge noted that the first accused, Otunba Alao-Akala had stated in his affidavit that he voluntarily went to the EFCC after he received a call from someone who claimed to be an operative. And he was subsequently detained on October 7, 2011.
He also noted in the defence counsel’s argument that the second accused person, Senator Hosea Agboola has always cooperated with the EFCC. He pointed out that contrary to the counter affidavit tendered by the prosecution that the second accused person showed up only when he knew he was to be declared wanted, a perusal of the facts before the court showed that the second accused person made statements on seven different occasions between 2009 and 2011. The judge then queried whether the prosecution is submitting that he made the statements from the bosom of his home and submitted same to the EFCC.
The judge also noted that the third accused person was interrogated in Abuja by the EFCC and allowed to go. And on arrival in Lagos, he was asked to report to the Lagos office of the EFCC. On doing so, he was arrested and detained. The judge further noted that form the processes submitted, the second accused person had been interrogated seven times between 26th August, 2009 and 26th June, 2010. Since it is clear that he voluntarily gave himself up, it would be right to consider that as a factor for bail.
Justice Abass also observed that after seven statements, if it pleased the EFCC to leave them on EFCC bail, what then would be the rationale behind keeping them in custody.
Justice Abass also made it known that even in the Supreme Court, ill health is a factor to be considered in bail matters.
Lastly, the judge disclosed that one of the factors often considered in bail applicayions is that there will not be a repetition of the offence. He said the first accused was the Governor of Oyo State when the offence was committed while the second accused was the Commissioner of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters but since they are no longer in office, they are no longer in position to repeat the offences.
The judge thus granted Otunba Alao-Akala bail in the sum of N 500 million with two sureties in like sum while Senator Ayoola and Femi Babalola were granted bail in the sum of N 300 million each with two sureties in like sum. All the sureties must also have landed properties in GRA, Ibadan.
Justice Abass thereafter fixed hearing for the case against the three accused persons for December 13, 14 and 15, 2011.