Court alters bank chiefs’ bail terms

A FEDERAL High Court, Lagos, yesterday ordered the variation of bail conditions granted the Chairman, Intercontinental Bank Plc, Raymond Obieri and six non-executive directors of the bank.

Obieri, alongside Hyacinth Enuha, Christopher Adebayo Alabi, Samuel Adegbite, Alhaji Isyaku Umar, Bayo Dada and Elder Sanni Adams, are facing a rash of fraud-related charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

However, they were also admitted to bail by the trial judge and Chief Justice of the Federal High Court, Dan Abutu, on the several terms, including payment of N100 million with two sureties in like sum who must be Nigerians resident in Lagos or Abuja that should include a serving senator or member of the House of Representatives.

The accused persons are also to report to the EFCC Abuja office on the first working day of every month.

But following an oral application by counsel to Obieri, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), at the resumed hearing of the suit yesterday, Justice Abutu varied the portion of the bail condition that demand that the accused persons report to the EFCC Abuja office.

Olanipekun had in the application prayed the court to vary the condition to read that the accused persons report at the Lagos office of the EFCC on the first working day of every month, rather than the Abuja office.

According to him, that condition has become strenuous to the accused persons, who had to travel to the anti-graft Abuja headquarters from their base in Lagos, whereas they can conveniently report at EFCC’s Lagos office.

Justice Abutu subsequently acceded to the prayer after counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, raised no objection to the application, describing it as “harmless.”

Meanwhile, the accused persons have filed objections to the fresh charges brought against them by the EFCC, which rose from the previous 12 to 20 counts.

In their various applications, the accused persons urged the court to quash the charges.

But Jacobs said the fresh charges, dated January 19, 2010, were brought against the former bank chiefs based on new clues and fresh facts available to the EFCC.

The fresh facts, according to Jacobs, were added to ensure that comprehensive charges are brought against the accused persons.

Arguments on the applications have been adjourned till June 1, 2010 to enable the EFCC counsel respond to them.

In the new amendment, Obieri and others were charged with granting credit facilities in the sum of N8 billion to companies, which they are either directors or had interest in, without security, contrary to Intercontinental Bank Plc’s regulations, an offence contrary to Section 15(1) (a) and (c) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices of the Banks Act Cap F2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under Section 16(1) (a) and (2) of the same Act.

They were also charged with failure to take reasonable steps to ensure that the balance sheet and the profit and loss account of the bank give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of Intercontinental Bank Plc with regard to a credit facility in the sum of N8 billion, granted to SOO-KOK Holdings, which was wrongly classified as an off-balance sheet item and in respect of which no loan account was created in the name of the company.

The offence, EFCC alleged, is contrary to Section 28(3) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act Cap B3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Other charges against some of the non-executive directors of Intercontinental Bank Plc include receiving several thousands of the United States dollars from the bank as holiday allowances in contravention of the code of conduct for banks issued by the CBN, an offence committed contrary to Section 33 (5) (b) of CBN (Establishment) Act 2007 and punishable under the same section of the same Act.



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