Stories by Vivian Okejeme Abuja
Justice Abubakr Talba of a Federal Capital Territory High Court, Gudu, has admitted a former Minister of the FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed to bail in the sum of N500million, and two sureties in the like sum who must be a senator and a director in the federal civil service. Th e bail condition also spelt out that the sureties must have landed property in the Federal Capital Territory with a Certifi cate of Occupancy, as well as evidence of payment of tax in the last three years, while the former minister is to deposit his international passport with the registrar of the court. In his ruling, Justice Talba held; “It is trite that no matter the gravity of the off ences, an accused person is assumed innocence until proven guilty under our laws. “
Bail is constitutional right and the purpose is not to set an accused person free but to grant him liberty to enable attend trial. Although the prosecution has urged the court to consider the gravity of the off ence as well as the issues raised in the counter affi davit, it is my view that such issues will be considered in the hearing of the substantive matter. “I am satisfi ed that the applicant has placed suffi cient materials to warrant court to exercise its discretion in his favour. Accordingly, his application is hereby granted.”
Th e judge adjourned trial to the matter till July 4, 2017. Before he was granted bail, the former minister who was arraigned on a six- count charge, and remanded in prison custody. Th e former minister who pleaded not guilty to all the charges described his trial as politically motivated. In moving the bail application, Bala’s counsel, Chief Uche urged the court to release his client on bail pending his trial. Th e bail application was brought under section 35(1) & (4) and 36 (5) and (6) of the 1999 constitution and section 158, 162, 163 & 165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.