Ikeja, March 22, 2019 Justice Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja Special Offences Court on Friday varied the bail conditions of one Victor Uadiale and one Everest Nnaji charged with defrauding a Kuwaiti businessman of $4.8 million.
Justice Dada varied the bail conditions following an appeal from Uadiale’s counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), and Nnaji’s counsel, Mr tayo Oyetibo (SAN)
“I note that the defendants have not been able to perfect their bail conditions particularly the monetary aspect.
“I am willing to further vary the bail conditions to the Naira equivalent of $500,000 for each of the defendants.
“I further hold that their international passports be deposited with the court,” the judge said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned the defendants on a five-count charge bordering on conspiracy to obtain money by false pretences and obtaining money by false pretence.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail on Dec. 20, 2018.
As part of their bail conditions, Justice Dada had held that Uadiale’s surety must have a minimum of $500,000 and Nnaji’s surety, a minimum of $1 million in a domiciliary account.
The defendants have been in prison as a result of their inability to meet the bail conditions.
Ojo had in an application dated Feb. 26, appealed to the judge to vary the $500,000 bail condition.
“The first defendant is appealing to your lordship’s sense of discretion and mercy for variation of the conditions of bail.
“He has problems with his eyesight and he needs urgent medical attention. I draw your lordship’s attention to the medical report attached to the summons for bail,” he said.
Also, Oyetibo, via an application dated March 11, had also asked for variation of Nnaji’s bail condition, also on grounds of his ill-health.
“The applicant has a heart problem and there is a medical report to that effect; because of this bail condition, he has been unable to attend to his health.
“We are asking your lordship to empathise with the second defendant. The sureties have met all the other conditions; we are even prepared to deposit his international passport,” Oyetibo said.
Responding, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the lead EFCC counsel, urged the court not to vary the bail conditions.
“The first defendant is likely to be a flight risk if bail conditions are varied by this court. The first defendant has provided an alternative – that $500,000 be converted to Naira equivalent.
“I urge your lordship that, instead of deviating the bail conditions, the money should be converted to its Naira equivalent. The interest of justice is not only for the defendants but for the victim.
“I urge that if my lord will not increase the bail conditions, my lord should leave them as they are so the victim can have something to fall upon in case the defendants abscond,” Oyedepo said.
According to the EFCC counsel, Uadiale committed conspiracy to obtain money by false pretences alongside Nnaji and Ismaila Lawal in 1997 and 1998 in Lagos State.
“Uadiale and Lawal, between Feb. 24 and March 19, 1997, with intent to defraud, obtained an aggregate sum of $93,250 from Tawfeeq Al-Omar, a Kuwaiti national.
“The funds were received under false pretences that they represented the payment for 50,000 metric tonnes of Urea (phosphate fertilizer) which they claimed was procured from National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria.
“On Aug. 11, 1997 in Lagos, Uadiale and Lawal fraudulently obtained $282,500 from Al-Omar under false pretences that the money was payment for 75,000 metric tonnes of diesel procured from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.
“Between Nov. 25, 1997, and May 18, 2006, Uadiale and Nnaji in Lagos obtained an aggregate sum of $3.5 million from Al -Omar under the pretences that the fund was payment for bonny light crude diesel.
“Also, between Jan. 17, 2007, and Feb. 8, 2011, Uadiale solely obtained $945,000 from Al-Omar by falsely claiming that the money was payment for bonny light crude diesel,” Oyedepo said.
According to the EFCC, the offences contravene Section 1(3) and 8(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 1995.
Justice Dada adjourned the case until April 2 for continuation of trial.