Court remands former FCT Minister in prison

Peter Bahago, Abuja

A high court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria has remanded a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Bala Mohammed in prison over allegaallegedlytions of fraud.
The remand order followed the arraignment of Mr. Mohammed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on a six-count criminal charge bordering on receiving of gratification and making false assets declaration of some of his property.
The anti graft agency alleged that Mr. Mohammed, while being the Minister of Federal Capital Territory Abuja, in 2014 did accept gratification of a house situated at No. 2599 and 2600 Cadestral zone AO4 Asokoro district Abuja from Aso Savings and Loans Bank PLC, worth N550 million.
The EFCC also inferred that  the said house was a reward for performing his official duties, contrary to Section 18(b) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Act 2000, punishable under Section 18(d) of the same Act.
The former FCT Minister pleaded not guilty to all the charges proffered against him.
He is also being prosecuted for allegedly abusing his office while being FCT Minister and Chairman Board of Directors, Aso Savings and Loans Bank PLC.
It was alleged that he used his office and position to confer corrupt and undue advantage to his associates by allocating four fully detached duplexes and eleven semi detached duplexes valued at N314million through the Presidential Taskforce on sale of government houses to them.
The offence, according to the EFCC, is punishable under Section 19 of ICPC Act 2000.

Counsel to Mr Bala Mohammed, Mr. Chris Uche while arguing his bail application prayed the court to grant him bail on self recognition.

He told the court that the defendant has filed a motion in pursuant to relevant sections of the law and as indicated, prayed the court to grant him the bail.

According to Mr Uche bail, in a trial matter is a constitutional right and the onus lies on the prosecution to show cause why bail should not be granted.” 

He therefore pleaded with the court to consider the health condition of the defendant on compassionate grounds because according to him, Mr Mohammed  is ill and will need to attend to his health condition.
Meanwhile the prosecution counsel Mr. Ben Ikani opposed the bail application and prayed the court to reject it.
He argued that the medical certificate presented to the court by the defendant was from  July 14, 2016.
Mr. Ikani also urged the court to refuse the application and grant the defendant bail on very stringent conditions.
Justice Abubaka Talba, after listening to all the submissions, adjourned the matter to May 12 for ruling on the bail.