Justice Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja Special Offences Court on Thursday granted bail to three former executives of the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), accused of defrauding the association of N20.1 million.
Newsmen reports that Dada in a ruling granted former chairmen – Adesina Ogunlana, Yinka Farounbi (first and second defendants) and former treasurer Aderinola Kappo (third defendant) bail in the sum of N500, 000 each with two sureties in like sum.
The judge noted that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to provide proof that the defendants, especially the first defendant (Ogunlana) tampered with prosecution witnesses.
She also noted that the anti-graft agency did not provide proof that the defendants jumped administrative bail or that the third defendant (Kappo) provided a fake address to the EFCC.
She said: “The allegation that the three defendants jumped administrative bail was not proven; although the first and third defendants said they were not around on the last Friday they were supposed to appear before the EFCC.
“They, however, presented themselves the next Monday for arraignment, despite not being served by the EFCC.
“There is no evidence that shows that the EFCC investigated the claims of the third defendant that she was in a hospital in Badagry on that Friday.
“The EFCC also failed to produce the second defendant (Farounbi) in court for arraignment, despite being in EFCC custody up until then.
“Failure to appear on the last Friday should not be sufficient reason to deny them bail but they will not be granted bail on self-recognition.
“The defendants are granted bail in the sum of N500, 000 and two sureties in like sum, one of whom must own a landed property within the jurisdiction of the court.
“The defendants shall remain on temporary bail, pending the perfection of their bail within two weeks, failure of which they will be remanded in prison.”
Following the ruling, Dada adjourned the case until July 3, 9 and 10 for commencement of trial.
Newsmen report that Farounbi served as NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman from 2014 to 2016 with Kappo serving as Treasurer during Farounbi’s tenure while Ogunlana served as NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman from 2016 to 2018.
The trio are jointly charged with conspiracy to steal.
Ogunlana is charged with 15-counts of stealing and a count of money laundering while Farounbi and Kappo are jointly charged with 13-counts of stealing.
They, however, plead not guilty to the 30-count charge.
The former NBA Ikeja Branch officers were accused by the EFCC of conniving and stealing N20.1 million, belonging to the body of lawyers.
According to Mr S. O. Daji, the EFCC Prosecutor, Farounbi and Kappo, allegedly committed the offences from June 15, 2016 to April 9, 2018 in Lagos.
Ogunlana is alleged by the anti-graft body to have committed the offences from July 18, 2016 to April 10, 2018.
“Farounbi and Kappo on 13 occasions without authorisation and in order to facilitate the stealing of N20 million belonging to the Ikeja Branch of the NBA issued cheques to Ogunlana.
“The cheques were paid into Ogunlana’s personal bank account No. 2004528818 with First Bank Plc during his tenure as Chairman of NBA Ikeja Branch.
“He dishonestly converted the money to his personal use,” Daji said.
Shedding light on the money laundering charge, the prosecutor said: “Sometime in 2017, Ogunlana converted to his own use, one million naira out of N2.8 million purportedly paid to Brand in Demand Ltd., for the NBA Ikeja Branch.
“In order to disguise the legal origin of the money, he informed Adegoke Dairo of Brand in Demand Ltd., to issue him an invoice/receipt No. 82871 as purported payment for the NBA Ikeja Branch,” the prosecutor said.
The offences contravene Sections 278, 285(1), 330 and 409 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011.