Relatives to journalists: why focus on this case?
Call on God, ancestors to rescue suspect
By Ola Ajayi
Ibadan—ONE of the bankers standing trial for alleged fraudulent activities totalling N8 billion broke down in tears, yesterday, as her three children came into the courtroom of the Federal High Court to greet her.
The suspect, who had been in detention at Agodi Prisons, Ibadan, since the case instituted against them by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, began last week, cried repeatedly even after the children had left.
All the eight suspects in the first batch were led into the court in handcuffs, some minutes before 9a.m., except the woman among them. As soon as they sat down, the handcuffs were removed before the commencement of proceedings.
This came just as relatives of the suspects became hostile to journalists, especially photojournalists who tried to take photographs as they were about boarding a rickety prison bus back to the prisons.
Among the relatives was a physically-challenged woman on a wheel chair, who kept praying for one Deji, one of the suspects, that the ‘good’ he had done and scores of people he had shown kindness would see him through the case.
Another fair-complexioned woman wept uncontrollably, raining curses on those who let the cat of the bag, saying “Deji, God would consider all your good gestures and help you out.
“The ancestors of all of us you have shown kindness in various ways would make you go scot free.”
Also, a man who followed our correspondent to the car, kept asking why should journalists give such attention to the case when there are several people in other sectors stealing billions without attracting any attention or publicity?
After the charges were read to the suspects last week, the case was adjourned till yesterday, when applications for bail were supposed to be heard.
At the sitting of the court yesterday, which was presided over by Justice Adeyinka Faaji of the Federal High Court, Ibadan, proceedings were stalled due to processes that had not been served on some of the counsel.
Two cases were heard in batches regarding the fraud.
The defendants/applicants, who applied for bail in the first batch, include Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Muniru Adeola, Toogun Kayode Phillip, all staff of Central Bank of Nigeria.
Others are Isiaq Akano, Ayodele Adeyemi, Oyebamiji Akeem, Ayodeji Alase and Ajiwe Adegoke.
Because some processes of the court were not served on some counsels to the defendants/applicants, there was a serious argument on whether the bail applications should be heard or not.
When counsel to all the defendants could not reach a common ground as to whether the case should be heard or not, the presiding judge suggested that the case be stood down till 12 noon subject to the agreement of the counsel.
While the prosecution, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), agreed, other counsel expressed fear that the prosecution could still claim he had not enough time to go through the processes.
Of the seven counsel holding briefs for the accused persons, about three said they were ready for the proceedings, when asked individually by the judge.
The judge then told all the counsel to put heads together and arrive at a common position on the issue.
After they had agreed, the court then asked one of the senior advocates to speak on behalf of other counsel.
Agreed hearing date
Mr. Jacob then said they had agreed to come back on Thursday when all processes would have been filed.
Justice Faaji then adjourned to Thursday 11 for hearing motion on bail applications and ordered all the accused to be remanded in prison custody.
The second batch of the case involved Oni Ademola Dolapo, Afolabi Esther Olunike, Ademola Ebenezer Adewale, Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Muniru and Toogun Kayode Phillip.
They too were remanded in prison pending hearing of their bail application on Thursday.
Prisons bus drama
Outside the court, there was a mild drama as the rickety bus, with number plates PRISONS PS 577 A0/1, which conveyed the accused to court, was pushed before the engine came to life.
Afterwards, the bus moved to the entrance of the court so the accused could get in without being seen.
Some of the suspects covered their faces, with some of the security agents warning that nobody should take photographs.
Amid tears and fervent prayers by relatives that the suspects be left off the hook, the accused persons were driven away.