SAN FRANCISCO, January 24, (THEWILL) – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday, arraigned a former Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Emeka Mba, before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja on a 15-count charge of money laundering and procurement fraud to the tune of N2.8billion.
Mba was arraigned alongside three others: a former Director of Finance, NBC, Patrick Areh; Basil Udotai (trading in the name and style of Technology Adviser) and Babatunji Amure (trading in name and style of Divine Partners).
The EFCC claimed that the accused at various times connived and transferred a sum of N2,899,723,500 from the account of NBC through various proxies for their personal gains.
Mba was also alleged to have used his office as NBC DG to award contracts without following due procurement process.
Shortly before the Defendants took their plea, counsel to the fourth defendant, E. C Ami and counsel to EFCC, Ben S. Ikani, had a debate on the counter affidavit filed by the prosecution as the defendant sought a short adjournment to enable a proper reply which was countered by the prosecution.
Justice Kolawole said that there was no need to speculate on the court proceedings since the judicial process requires the defendants to take their plea before there can be hearing on Bail application.
He therefore ordered that the charges be read to the defendants for them to enter their plea to which the defendants pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
In view of their pleas, Ikani expressed readiness to commence trial immediately.
The judge then suggested that rather than wasting the time of the court on arguments over bail, counsel to all parties should take an hour break to go agree on terms of the bail.
At the resumed sitting after the break, the parties agreed that the defendants should continue with the administrative bail earlier granted them by the EFCC.
However, Ikani noted that the conditions of the administrative bail had no monetary consequences attached to it, and said the sureties might not have anything to lose in the event of the defendants jumping bail.
He therefore urged the court to add a sum to protect the interest of the prosecution in the event the accused jump bail.
Justice Kolawole, thereafter ruled that the defendants should continue on the earlier bail terms adding a sum of N50million against each defendant.
He also ruled that the defendants are to produce one surety each, who must have landed property anywhere in Nigeria. Their international passports which they earlier submitted to the EFCC should be transferred to the court.
The matter was then adjourned to February 28, 2016 for commencement of trial.