Alleged N36bn Fraud: Abuja court grants N500m bail to ex-Gov Turaki

Saminu Turaki

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, admitted a former governor of Jigawa State, Saminu Turaki to a N500 million bail with two sureties in like sum.

The bail is the second the two term governor would secure in the last one week.

Turaki is on trial for allegedly laundering about N36 billion while he served as governor between 1999 and 2007.

Bar and Bench Watch reports that Mr. Turaki was first arraigned by the EFCC before Justice Binta Murtala Nyako of the Federal High Court on July 13, 2007 on a 32-count charge of misappropriating N36 billion while in office.

He was one of the few governors EFCC charged to court soon after their tenure in 2007.

Like all his colleagues who were arraigned in 2007 at the Federal high court, OAU Quarters in Abuja, he also pleaded not guilty to the charge and was later granted bail in the sum of N100 million with two sureties.

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Moments after he got bail, he commenced a series of attack on the charge.

In 2011, one of his applications challenging the jurisdiction of a Federal high court, Abuja to try him for an offence he committed in Jigawa was successful with his case transferred to the Federal High Court, Dutse.

But as soon as he was re-arraigned on the same 32-count charge in Dutse, he disappeared into the thin air until the trial judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

He could not be arrested until after three years of disappearance.

Specifically, he was re-arrested this month and was arraigned by the EFCC.

The trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, however ordered that Mr Turaki must not be allowed home until he had produced two sureties in the sum of N250 million each.

Mr. Dimgba said that the sureties must either be business persons or civil servants of the rank of director and must have landed property in the FCT.

He said the sureties must show evidence of tax payment to the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

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The judge also ordered Mr. Turaki to deposit his international passport with the court’s registry and report to the headquarters of the EFCC every first working day of every month.

He ordered remand of Mr. Turaki in Kuje Prison pending the perfection of the bail conditions, and adjourned the case till September 19 for hearing in line with first adjournment by the Federal High Court in Dutse, Jigawa State.

Justice Sabi’u Yahuza of the Dutse court had earlier adjourned the case to September 19.

Mr. Turaki was arraigned alongside three companies, INC Natural Resources Ltd., Apel Construction Ltd., and WideHeart Construction Ltd., on a 32-count charge bordering on money laundering.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Earlier, Ahmed Raji, the defence counsel, prayed the court to grant his client bail, adding that the defendant had governed a state for eight years.

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Mr. Raji added that the defence was not aware of the arraignment as they would have come with a proper application.

He urged the court to exercise its discretion as the defendant had spent two weeks in detention.

The prosecuting counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, opposed the oral application.

Mr. Mohammed said the defendant was arrested following a bench warrant issued in September 2014 by Justice Sabi’u Yahuza.

He argued that the prosecution only arrested the defendant on July 4, adding that if granted bail, he might not make himself available for the trial.

Tuesday’s bail was the second by separate courts granted the former fugitive governor within one week.