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Top Nigerian civil servant arraigned over N69 million theft, gets bail

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Independent Corrupt Practices and related offences Commission, ICPC, in Nigeria, has arraigned Bola Audu, a top civil servant in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation for alleged N72 million fraud.

Mr Audu’s boss, Accountant General of the federation was also recently suspended by the Federal Government over alleged involvement in corruption.

Audu has been suspended, and was subsequently expelled as a member and President of the Senior Civil Servants Association of Nigeria (ASCSN) over anti-union activities.

He was arraigned before Yusuf Halilu, a judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court at Maitama, Abuja.

In the five-count charge, the government accuses Mr Audu of alleged misappropriation of N69 million that was meant for the purchase of a sport utility vehicle for the office of President, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN).

In another charge the prosecution told the court that Mr Audu allegedly diverted N3 million into the union’s election.

Mr Audu denied the five-count charge when it was read to him in court on Thursday.

Following his not guilty plea, Osuobeni Akponimisingha, an assistant chief legal officer at the ICPC, requested a date for commencement of trial.

But the defendant’s lawyer, Babatunde Adewusi, urged the court to admit his client to bail.

A bail request filed by Mr Adewusi on 15 February moved because the prosecuting lawyer did oppose the application.

“My Lord, we are interested in the defendant attending trial,” Mr Akponimisingha said.

In his reaction, the defendant’s lawyer commended Mr Akponimisingha “for his professional conduct in the handling of the case.”

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In a bench ruling, the judge, Mr Halilu, said bail is a constitutional right of an accused person depending on the nature of the alleged offence.

Mr Halilu noted that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

“The prosecution must lead credible evidence to establish the guilt of a defendant.”

In considering Mr Audu’s bail request, the judge said the alleged offences were bailable.

“The offences are all bailable. My concern is to have the defendant return to court to stand trial. I am minded to admit the defendant to bail,” Mr Halilu said.

Subsequently, the judge admitted Mr Audu to bail on the grounds that he produces two sureties who must be directors in the federal civil service.

The judge added that the directors must produce their letters of employment and promotion to the directorship rank in the civil service.

Mr Halilu said the defendant would be remanded at Kuje Prison in Abuja if he fails to meet the bail condition.

The suit was adjourned until 6 May for commencement of trial.


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