Judge Withdraws From Oronsaye Case


The judge presiding over the trial of a former head of service, Stephen Oronsaye, has said that he would
return the case file to the chief judge for reassignment.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole said this on Tuesday as the case came up for hearing, due to the remarks of the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, on the accused persons’ bail application.

Jacobs had indicated his unwillingness to challenge Oronsaye’s bail application because the trial judge’s earlier release of the accused to his lawyer at the last sitting was tantamount to granting him bail, a position that Justice Kolawole saw as an attempt to “intimidate the court” and a tacit allegation of bias on the part of the court.

“I had wanted both defence and prosecution to come up with the terms of the bail, but the remarks of the prosecuting counsel that he will not oppose bail were, in my view, intended to intimidate the court. The accused persons were presumed innocent until the contrary is proven in a fair hearing,” the judge said.

He, however, went ahead to grant bail to Oronsaye in self recognition and ordered that his international passport be deposited with the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Oronsaye and a co-accused, Osarenkhoe Afe, are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for a N2 billion fraud.

Tuesday’s proceeding was for the hearing of the bail applications filed by Oronsaye and his co-accused, who are alleged to have used two companies – Federick Hamilton Global Services Limited, and Xangee
Technologies Limited, for corrupt biometrics enrolment deals to the tune of N2 billion.

Kolawole had on July 13, 2015 released the accused persons to their counsels and fixed July 21, 2015 for hearing of the bail applications.

At the resumed sitting, the prosecuting counsel had told the court that it would be difficult for him to oppose the bail applications for the accused persons because, in his view, the release of Oronsaye by the judge at the last sitting was tantamount to granting him bail.

He said any attempt by him to oppose bail was fruitless.

He added that it would be better in the instance to focus on the conditions that would be attached to the bail.
Jacobs also noted that already in Oronsaye’s bail application were a list of sureties that could stand for the accused person, an indication that the accused person was sure of being granted bail.

Counsel to Oronsaye, Kanu Agabi, however, urged to court not to send his client to prison custody due to the poor state of the nation’s prisons.

Counsel to Afe, Oluwole Aladedoye, who also represented the third accused, Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Limited, added that the second accused had never violated bail conditions since 2011 when investigations in the alleged fraud began.

Another accused person in the trial, though not formally listed on the charge sheet, Abdulrasheed Maina, who is a former Chairman of the Pension Task Team, sent a lawyer, Esther Uzoma, to debunk the allegation that he was at large.

Uzoma claimed that Maina never got any invitation from the EFCC to appear before it.

However, Jacobs, insisted that Maina had been at large and was currently in Dubai.

Jacobs urged the judge to extract an undertaking from Uzoma to the effect that she would produce her client in court.

The judge also granted Afe bail in the sum of N50million, with two sureties each in like sum, who must be civil servants, retired or serving, either at federal or state government levels, not below Grade Level 16.



    One of the sureties, the judge said, must have a landed property within Abuja jurisdiction. The two sureties must produce evidence of tax payment for the past three years and show affidavit of means in event he jumps bail.

    He was also instructed to deposit his international passport with the court.

    He gave Afe and his counsel till July 24, 2015 to meet the bail conditions or be remanded in Kuje Prisons.

    Justice Kolawole, thereafter, fixed October 5, 2015 for further mention to ascertain which judge would subsequently handle the trial.

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