Friday, July 1

Court grants Umaru Fintiri ex-Adamawa Governor N500m bail

Court grants Umaru Fintiri ex-Adamawa Governor N500m bail

Umaru Fintiri

The former Governor of Adamawa State, Umaru Fintiri, who was remanded in prison custody over his alleged complicity in N1.9billion fraud, was on Friday, granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja to the tune of N500million.

In a ruling delivered by trial Justice Ahmed Mohammed, the court also ordered the former governor to produce two sureties in the like sum. The court stressed that the sureties must not only own landed properties within Abuja worth the bail sum, but must also submit their passport photographs. Justice Mohammed ordered the sureties to deposit the title documents of the properties to the Deputy Registrar of the court.

More so, Fintiri was directed to surrender his international passport to the court, even as he was barred from travelling outside the country without permission.

Justice Mohammed ordered that the defendant should remain in prison custody pending the perfection of all the bail conditions and confirmation by an officer of the court. Earlier, the court dismissed a counter-affidavit the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, filed in opposition to Fintiri’s bail application dated June 24 but filed on 27.

The anti-graft agency which is prosecuting the defendant on a five-count criminal charge had through its lawyer, Mr. Larry Aso, expressed fears that the accused person would go into hiding once released on bail.

However, the trial Judge, while dismissing EFCC’s opposition, maintained that “the grant of bail pending trial is at the discretion of the court”. Placing reliance on section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, Justice Mohammed said the prosecution failed to establish why the defendant should be denied bail.

He noted that EFCC had admitted in its counter-affidavit that it had on June 15, released the defendant on administrative bail.

The court said there was no evidence that the former governor did anything to jeopardise the bail earlier granted to him by the agency. “If the complainant granted the defendant administrative bail without entertaining fear that he will bolt away, why raise the fear now? “The court has not seen any reason why it should not grant bail to the 1st defendant”, the Judge held. Meanwhile, the court has fixed October 6 to commence full-blown trial of the defendant.

Specifically, EFCC, in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/131/2016, alleged that the former governor had between October 2014 and August 2015, diverted public funds to the tune of N1.9billion.

The anti-graft agency also charged a firm that allegedly served as conduit pipe through which the fund was siphoned, Mayim Constructions & Properties Limited, as the 2nd defendant before the court. EFCC alleged that Fintiri had at various dates, within the ten months the fraud was perpetuated, transferred funds from account number: 0313000301 domiciled at EcoBank Plc operated by Timeplex Nigeria Ltd, into account number: 5742019591 domiciled at the same bank but operated by the 2nd defendant.

Aside allegation that he used N220million to acquire a property at No 7 Gana Street, Maitama Abuja, Fintiri was said to have within three months he held sway as acting governor of Adamawa State, repaid a N550m loan he secured from Ecobank for the acquisition of a Tea plantation farm from Nigeria Agricultural bank in Taraba State.

EFCC said its investigations revealed that the bank had initially allowed the defendant to repay the loan within twelve months. It said that Fintiri attempted to disguise the origin of the funds which the agency described as “proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: bribery and corruption”.

The prosecution maintained that the defendant committed an offence contrary to sections 15(2) (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, as amended in 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) and (4) of the same Act.

Count-five in the charge dated June 16 and signed by the Deputy Director, Legal & Prosecution Department of the EFCC, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, read:

“That you, Ahmadu Umaru (Alias Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri) and Mayim Construction and Properties Ltd, between the 3rd of June 2014 an 4th of August 2015 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did retain in your US Dollars account number 5742019601 domicile at Ecobank Plc, the aggregate sum of $4, 830, 000.00 (US Dollar Four Million eight hundred and thirty thousand) which sum you know form part of proceeds of unlawful act to wit: corruption and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2) (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) and (4) of the same Act”.

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