Oronsaye granted N10m bail

OronsayeHow N250m was distributed, by witness
•Ex-NHIS scribe remanded over alleged N440m scam

Former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Steve Oronsaye who had pleaded not guilty at his formal arraignment yesterday before Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja was granted bail with N10 million.

He was also required to provide two sureties who must have attained the rank of directors in the civil service, serving or retired and must reside in Abuja.

Oronsaye was asked to deposit his international passport with the Registrar of FCT High Court.

Justice Goodluck had ruled that there was no evidence that the defendant would intimidate witnesses if granted bail.

Meanwhile, a Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday ordered the remand of a former Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme, (NHIS), Dr. Femi Thomas, also known as Dr. Ike, in prison custody over alleged fraud of US $2.2 million (about N404,000,000).

The trial judge, Justice Saliu Saidu also ordered that a bureau de change operator, Kabiru Sidi, be remanded in prison custody together with the former NHIS boss, pending the formalisation of their bail.

He made the remand order after they were arraigned before his court by the EFCC, on a four-count charge bordering on conspiracy to make and accept the said sum which exceeded the approved N5 million as well as making a false statement.

But before the bail was granted, an official of the Operations Department of the EFCC, Ngunna Akwagh, told the court that Oronsaye distributed N100 million among his personal staff while a total of N250 million was diverted.

She further told the court that her team was assigned to investigate a petition written against Oronsaye by Concerned Citizens on Anti-corruption in Nigeria, which alleged that Oronsaye was involved in fraudulent activities while serving as the Chairman, Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force, to the tune of N850 million.

Akwagh told the court that in the course of interrogating Oronsaye, he revealed that those paid were his personal staff. He had also promised to produce them when next he would be visiting the commission but was able to bring only one Sunday, who was an official of the State Security Service (SSS).

But the Secretary, Presidential Committee, Jamal Alabi, had earlier told EFCC that he was only aware of the committee’s account with Zenith Bank and not Access Bank.

The matter has been adjourned to March 24, April 13 and 14 for further hearing.

The former NHIS Executive Secretary, who was a two-term Commissioner for Health in Ekiti State, alongside his wife, was also alleged to have made a cash payment of the $2.2 million, to one Mr. Ibitoye John Bamidele, without going through any financial institution.

The bureau de change operator, Sidi was alleged to have on July 15, 2015, at the Ikoyi’s office of EFCC, made a false statement to one Afeez Mustapha, an investigating officer with the commission, that he was the owner of the said $2.2 million.

The offences according to the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. A.B.C. Ozioko are contrary to sections 18 (2)(b): 1(a) and 39(2)(b) and punishable under sections 16(2)(b) and Section 39 (2)(c) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004.

The two accused persons pleaded not guilty of the charges.
Upon the plea of accused persons, the EFCC prosecutor urged the court to remand them and give a date for trial.

However, counsel to the accused persons, led by Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN) informed the court that they have file a motion for bail for the accused persons.

He urged the court to admit them on bail. He prayed that the first accused person should be granted bail on self-recognisance, and that the second accused person be admitted to bail on a liberal term.

Ruling on the bail applications, Justice Saidu admitted the former NHIS Executive Secretary in bail in the sum of N25 million with two sureties.

One of the sureties must be a Grade Level 15 officer in Federal or Lagos State Ministry, while the other surety must be a landed property owner within Lagos State.

The judge also admitted on bail the bureau de change operator in the sum of N10 million with two sureties.

One of the sureties according to the judge must be a Grade Level 12 officer in Federal or Lagos State ministry while the second surety must be a landed property owner within Lagos State.

The judge also ordered that the two sureties must depose to the affidavit of means and submit their passport photograph.

He also ordered the two accused persons to deposit their international passports with the registrar of the court.

The judge, however, ordered that the two accused persons be remanded in prison custody pending the time they are able to perfect the bail conditions and adjourned the matter till May 12, for trial.

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