A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday granted bail to a former Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, and others with whom he was accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of defrauding graduate applicants to the tune of N675m in the botched March 15, 2014 Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment exercise.
Justice Anwuli Chikere granted bail to Moro on self recognisance, but imposed a bail of N100m with one surety in like sum on each of his two co-accused persons.
But all the accused persons, including Moro, were ordered to deposit their passports and other travelling documents with the court registrar throughout the period of their trial.
Moro’s co-accused persons, who were granted bail, are a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Mrs. Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, and a former director in the ministry, Mr. F.O. Alayebami.
Moro, Daniel-Nwobia and Alayebami were on Monday arraigned along with the firm contracted to execute the recruitment exercise, Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited.
The prosecution said one of the suspects, Mahmood Ahmadu, who was also involved in the alleged scam, was on the run.
Shortly after they pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday, Justice Chikere had remanded Moro and Alayebami in prison pending the hearing and determination of their bail applications.
The judge had on the other hand, allowed Daniel-Nwobia to continue enjoying the administrative bail earlier granted to her by the EFCC.
The judge ordered again in her ruling on Thursday that the ex-permanent secretary should continue to enjoy the administrative bail until she was able to meet the new bail conditions imposed by the court.
Moro and Alayebami were however ordered to remain in prison until they would be able to meet the bail conditions imposed on Thursday.
The judge agreed with Moro’s counsel, Mr. Akinlolu Kehinde, that Moro, being a former minister, was a senior citizen, who could be granted bail 0n self recognisance.
But each of Daniel-Nwobia and Alayebami were ordered to present as sureties, an employee of the Federal Government or any state government not below the rank of a director, in addition to the N100m bail sum and other conditions.
They are also to present to the court two passport photographs each.
Each of them is also to produce title documents of a property in any part of Nigeria.
Justice Chikere dismissed the objection of the EFCC to the bail applications, ruling that the accused persons were presumed innocent under Section 36(5) of the Constitution until proven guilty.
The court also ruled that by virtue of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, granting bail to an accused person was automatic except if it is proved that such an accused person will likely commit another offence.
The judge ruled that the EFCC failed to show that the accused persons would commit the offences they were charged with again or influence prosecution witnesses.
The accused persons, who were represented by separate lawyers on Monday, pleaded not guilty to the 11 counts when the charges were read to them.
Though the company was not represented by anybody, a not-guilty plea was recorded for it by the judge in line with the law.
The prosecution accused the defendants of offences bordering on obtaining money by false pretences, procurement fraud and money laundering.