Barely five days after a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja, granted bail to a former governor of Jigawa State, Saminu Turaki, a Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered his remand in Kuje Prison, Abuja.
Although Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court granted bail to the ex-governor on fresh bail conditions on Tuesday, he ordered the defendant to remain in Kuje Prisons, Abuja, pending when the bail conditions would be met.
Justice Dimgba made the order shortly after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission re-arraigned Turaki and three companies on 32 counts of money laundering involving about N37bn.
The defendants allegedly committed the offences between 2006 and 2007 while Turaki was in office as the state governor.
Turaki, alongside his co-defendants – INC Natural Resources Limited, Arkel Construction Nigeria Limited and Wildcat Construction Limited, were earlier arraigned at the Dutse, Jigawa State Division of the Federal High Court in 2011.
But he was said to have since evaded trial until the EFCC, acting on an arrest warrant issued for Turaki by the court in Dutse about three years ago, arrested him on July 4, 2017, at an event in Abuja.
While the EFCC was facilitating how to produce him before the court in Dutse, the judge went on his annual vacation.
Turaki then filed a rights enforcement suit before the FCT High Court in Abuja, seeking an order releasing him from the anti-graft agency’s custody.
He also filed an interlocutory application to urge the court before the hearing of the main suit.
The application was opposed by the EFCC on the grounds that with Turaki’s antecedent of jumping bail earlier granted him six years ago by the Federal High Court in Dutse, and evading arrest as ordered by the same court about three years ago, he would likely jump bail again.
But in his ruling on Thursday, Justice Yusuf Halilu of the FCT High Court, granted bail to the ex-governor on conditions which required him to submit his travelling documents to the registry of the court; produce “two reasonable sureties” residing in Abuja, and sign a register to be opened at the EFCC’s office every two weeks.
Instead of releasing him, the EFCC re-filed in the Federal High Court in Abuja, the same set of charges already pending against the defendants before the court in Dutse.
The anti-graft agency then re-arraigned Turaki and the three companies before Justice Dimgba in Abuja, being the only judge sitting as a vacation judge in the North as other Federal High Court judges proceed on vacation.
After Turaki pleaded not guilty to the 32 counts on Tuesday, Justice Dimgba said he was inclined to granting bail to the ex-governor “in deference” to the earlier bail granted the defendant by Justice Halilu of the FCT High Court.
He asked the prosecution, led by Mohammed Abubakar, and the defence, led by Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), to agree on the bail conditions to be imposed on the defendant.
With a little alteration to the terms and conditions agreed on by the two parties, Justice Dimgba granted bail to Turaki in the sum of N500m with two sureties in the sum of N250m each.
The judge directed that the two sureties must either be into business or a civil servant holding at least the post of a director.
He ordered that the sureties must be resident in the FCT, have landed property in the FCT, including the satellite towns and must swear to an affidavit of means to show their ability to meet the bail conditions.
The sureties must also submit, as part of the bail conditions, their tax clearance certificates issued by the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
The judge also ordered the former governor to deposit all his travelling documents to the court’s registry and must not travel outside the country except on an express permission of the court.
He also directed Turaki to report to the EFCC’s headquarters on the first working day of every month.
The judge said he would only sign the warrant for the release of the defendant from prison only after the EFCC, in writing, confirmed that the bail conditions had been met to its satisfaction, except if the commission failed to do so within 24 hours of the presentation of the sureties to it.
Justice Dimgba then adjourned until September 19, the date already fixed by the Federal High Court in Dutse.
The case is to be transferred back to Dutse after Turaki must have met his bail conditions.