After several days at the Kuje Prison, the convicted ex-deputy director at the Nigeria Police Pension Office, Mr. John Yakubu Yusuf, yesterday regained temporary freedom when Justice Adamu Bello admitted him to bail in the sum of N10 million and a surety in like sum.
The surety, according to the court, must be a civil servant not below the rank of a director and also resides within the jurisdiction of the court. Justice Bello had, while ruling on his bail application, given an insight into why the accused who is standing trial on a four-count charge of assets declaration related offences was remanded in prison custody for a very long time.
He said his decision to keep the accused in prison custody was informed by the public outcry that greeted the decision of Justice Abubakar Talba of the FCT High Court. In sentencing Yusuf, who pleaded guilty of colluding with others to steal over N27 billion, Justice Talba chose the most lenient of options by handing him a light sentence of two years imprisonment with an option of N750,000 fine.
He was also to forfeit 32 houses in the FCT and Gombe as well as N325 million the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said were proceeds from the crime. Justice Adamu explained that “his conviction by the FCT High Court was trailed by public condemnation. In this case, the accused has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. I was cautious of the public outcry to allow the passions and emotions to cool down and also for the interest of the accused to be kept in safe custody.”
The judge said considering the fact that investigation into the matter had been concluded, “I have decided to exercise my discretion in his favour by granting him bail.
Accordingly, the accused person is granted bail in the sum of N10 million and one reliable surety in the like sum who must hold the post of a director in the civil service. The surety must reside within the jurisdiction of the court with a landed property. “Furthermore, the accused person has been bared from embarking on overseas travels without the permission of the court.
He is also directed to surrender his international passport with the deputy registrar of the court.” His trial almost ended on a tragic note during one of the sittings when he slumped in court, forcing proceedings to be adjourned abruptly to April 22. Drama started when prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) urged the court to refuse his (Yusuf) bail application as canvassed by his lawyer, Theodore Mayaki. Mayaki had prayed the court to grant his client bail pending the hearing and determination of the charge against him.
But in opposition, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) urged the court to deny the application and allow Yusuf remain in custody pending trial. It was in the heat of this argument that Yusuf, who could no longer stand the heat of the trial collapsed in the dock. A bewildered Justice Adamu Bello, hearing the case, hurriedly adjourned proceedings with an order that he should be given prompt medical attention.
He was rushed out of the courtroom in company of security personnel and prison officials for medical attention. In a counter affidavit opposing the application, Jacobs said Yusuf had been convicted previously for criminal breach of trust and it would be in his interest to be kept in custody to prevent the possibility of him being mobbed by aggrieved members of the public. The accused was alleged to have knowingly failed to make full disclosure of his assets and liability in the declaration of assets form, which he filled last February.
Besides, he was said to have failed to declare his interest in a company known as SY-A Global Services Limited, which is solely owned by him and members of his immediate family. The offense is punishable under Section 27(3) of the EFCC Act (2004). Yusufu is equally alleged to have failed to declare his interest in a N250 million fixed deposit account in the name of the said company and maintained by Zenith Bank Plc.
The company is also alleged to have a N10 million fixed deposit account it maintained at First Bank of Nigeria Plc. The anti graft agency similarly accused Yusufu of fixing another N29 million through one Danjuma Mele , who is expected to testify as witness in the trial.
The money was allegedly fixed on Yusufu’s instructions through Mele’s company, Jidag Technical Services Ltd, in Diamond Bank Plc. Yusufu pleaded not guilty to all four counts. Meanwhile, the court has slated March 11 to rule on the bail application.