Money laundering charge: Ex-Gov Turaki secures fresh N500m bail
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), on Tuesday, re-arraigned former Governor of Jigawa State, Ibrahim Saminu Turaki, before the Federal High Court in Abuja, on a 32-count money laundering charge.
Turaki who was arrested by the anti-graft agency at a public function in Abuja on July 4, was docked before the high court over his alleged complicity in illegal diversion of public funds to the tune of about N36billion.
The former governor was arraigned alongside two firms, INC Natural Resources Ltd, Arkel Construction Nigeria Ltd and Wildcat Construction Ltd.
Shortly after the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge, his lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, begged the court to release him on bail pending determination of the case against him.
Raji, SAN, told the court that a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory had on July 13, also granted the defendant bail.
However, EFCC lawyer, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, urged the court to remand the defendant in custody, stressing that he repeatedly violated his previous bail conditions.
“My lord, the defendant is not in this court on his free will. He was arrested and brought before this court pursuant to a bench warrant that was issued by Justice S. Yahusa in September 2014. We made efforts for almost three years to arrest him to no avail until July 4.
“Bail is to ensure attendance of a defendant to trial. However, Flfrom antecedents of the defendant, it is very clear that if he is released, he will not make himself available for trial”.
EFCC lawyer told the court that Turaki equally jumped bail that was granted to him in 2007 by the first trial Judge in the matter, Justice Binta Nyako.
Nevertheless, in his ruling, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba who is sitting as a vacation judge said he was minded to release the defendant on bail.
Justice Dimgba said he decided to exercise discretion in favour of the defendant in view of the fact that he was recently granted bail by the FCT High Court in relation to the same charge.
Consequently, by agreement of both counsel, the court granted Turaki bail to the tune of N500million, with two sureties that will deposit N250million each
According to the court, the sureties could be businessman or civil servants not below the rank of a Director.
Aside being owner of landed property within the FCT city centres, the court directed that the sureties must depose affidavit of means, submit recent tax clearance issued by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS).
The court ordered Turaki to surrender his all his travelling documents, warning that he should not leave the country without permission.
The defendant was further directed to report to EFCC headquarters first working day of every month.
Justice Dimgba held that EFCC and an official of the court would confirm that all the bail conditions were perfected.
He directed EFCC to notify the court after the conditions are met, saying the confirmation should be done not more than 48 hours after the defendant produced the stipulated bail requirements.
The matter was subsequently adjourned till September 19 as earlier scheduled by the Dutse Division of the Federal High Court where the defendant was being tried by the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency had declared Turaki wanted in connection with a case of criminal conspiracy, stealing, money laundering and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N36 Billion (Thirty Six Billion Naira Only).
Following his alleged refusal to attend trial for over six years, EFCC which said it acted on the basis of an intelligent report, re-arrested the defendant on the strength of a bench warrant it said was issued since 2014 by the High Court in Dutse, Jigawa State.
Some of the charges against the former governor read: “That you Ibrahim Saminu Turaki, INC Natural Resources Ltd, Arkel Construction Nigeria Ltd, Wildcat Construction Ltd and Ahmed Ibrahim Mohammed (now at large) on or about 3rd May, 2006 at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did collaborate in concealing the genuine nature of the sum of 8, 004, 000, 000. 00 (Eight Billion, Four Million Naira) which sum was derived from an illegal act an you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 14(1) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004.
“That you Ibrahim Saminu Turaki, INC Natural Resources Ltd, Arkel Construction Nigeria Ltd, Wildcat Construction Ltd and Ahmed Ibrahim Mohammed (now at large) on or about 3rd May, 2006 at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did collaborate in concealing the genuine nature of the sum of $20, 000, 000. 00 (Twenty Million United States Dollars) which sum was derived from an illegal act an you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 14(1) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004”.