Arms Purchase Scandal Court grants member, presidential arms committee N100m bail

The Department of State Security (DSS) arraigned Mohammed on Thursday over allegations of money laundering, possession of fire arms and violation of official secret act.

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The Federal High Court, Abuja, has admitted Air Commodore Umar Mohammed to bail in the sum of N100 million and two sureties in the sum of N50 million each.

The Department of State Security (DSS) arraigned Mohammed on Thursday over allegations of money laundering, possession of fire arms and violation of official secret act.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Umar, a retired Air Force officer, was a member of the presidential team investigating the arms deal in the country.

Trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, said that he was minded to grant the defendant bail because the prosecution had failed to show that he would jump bail.

"I note that the offence the defendant is charged with carries a sentence of three years imprisonment.

"Under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), I am required to release a person charged within the threshold of the penalties referenced above to bail.

"This is, however, except in circumstances where there is reasonable ground to believe that the defendant when released on bail will commit another offence.

"Other circumstances are where he attempts to influence or interfere with the investigation of the case, attempts to conceal evidence or prejudices the proper investigation of the case.

"I have carefully read all the submissions before me, I am not convinced that a sufficient case has been made by the prosecution that any of the above negative conditions exist as to prevent the court from granting bail.

"I hold therefore that I am inclined to admit the defendant to bail and I so admit him," Dimgba said.

He added that every citizen charged with an offence was entitled to a conducive environment devoid of fear to prepare his defence.

e noted, moreover, that the subject matter of the charge was principally the sum of 1.3 million dollars whose naira equivalent was about N400m.

He added that the said amount was already in the custody of the prosecution having been seized.

The other bail conditions are that the defendant shall forfeit the N100 million to Federal government if he jumps bail and the two sureties are to each enter a bail bond for the sum of N50 million.

The judge also said that the sureties could be private business men, professionals or civil servants adding that if in the civil service, a surety must not be less than the rank of a director.

The sureties must also be owners of developed property within the Federal Capital Territory and not on the outskirts of the city.

They are to also provide evidence of payment of income tax for the past three years.

The judge also ordered the defendant to deposit his international passports with the registrar of the court and must not travel abroad without the permission of the court.

He further said that the trial shall be accorded accelerated hearing and the defendant would remain in prison custody until he perfects his bail conditions.

Dimgba adjourned the case till Oct. 26 and 27 for commencement of trial.

Mohammed's counsel, Mr Hassan Liman, had prayed the court to grant him bail since it was his constitutional right.

Liman added that the burden of proving why Mohammed should not be granted bail was on the prosecution.

He said that in the counter affidavit filed by the prosecution they had failed to establish that if granted bail, the defendant would not be available to stand trial.

The defence counsel said that the prosecution had further stated in its affidavit that investigation had been concluded and a prima-facie case established.

He, therefore, prayed the court to grant the defendant bail to allow him prepare his defence.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Ejike Orji opposed the bail application saying that the defendant had displayed signs that if granted bail, he would not be available to stand trial.

Orji said that sum of money on the receipt, which was one of the exhibits attached to the bail application, was the same money the defendant threw out of his window when the DSS visited his house.

He said that this was a clear signal that the defendant would attempt to conceal and destroy evidence if granted bail.

NAN reports Umar was arrested by the DSS on June 19 when they got a remand warrant from a Magistrate’s Court and upon the expiration of the remand warrant, filed charges against him in a magistrate court.

Although the magistrate granted him bail, the DSS did not release him.

And on July 20, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, filed fresh charges against him in the Federal High Court where he was arraigned on Thursday and pleaded not guilty to all charges

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