Former Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu was Tuesday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja, on eight-count charge of money laundering.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned the former Governor alongside the 2015 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Umar Nasko, for conspiring to divert over N1bn from Ecological Fund the state received from the Federal Government in 2014.
They were alleged to have embezzled the Ecological Fund through the account of a private company, D-Sabrin International Limited .
Some of the counts in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/71/2017, read: “That you, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu (whilst being the Executive Governor of Niger State) and Umar Muhammed Nasko (whilst being the Commissioner for Environment, Parks, Gardens and Forest Resources in Niger State) sometime in 2014 at Minna within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did conspire between yourselves to commit an offence to wit; Money Laundering of Ecological Funds released by the Federal Government to the Niger State Government and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.”
After taking their plea, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge, even as they prayed the court to allow them on bail .
This is even as they filed a preliminary objection to their trial in Abuja.
The defendants, through their lawyer, Mamman Usman, maintained that the charge against them contained bailable offences, stressing that they were earlier granted administrative bail by the anti-graft agency.
Even though it did not oppose the bail request, EFCC lawyer, Ben Ikani, urged the court to impose conditions that would secure the presence of the defendants for their trial.
In a bench ruling, trial Justice Nnamdi Dimgba granted the defendants bail to the sum 200m with two sureties each.
Justice Dimgba held that the sureties could be public servants or professionals.
Justice Dimgba ordered the defendants to surrender their international passports and not travel outside the country except with the permission of the court.
The case was adjourned till 6 and 7 July for hearing.