A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday remanded a former director of pension accounts in the office of the head of civil service, Dr. Sani Tiedi in prison custody till May 9, 2012 when his application for bail will be decided.
This followed the amendment of the charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for illegally diverting over eight hundred million naira pension fund in 2009.
The new and amended charge excluded some names of the accused persons whom the anti-graft agency said were no more relevant to sustain the charge, and which the court allowed same.
The former director who had been on bail on earlier charges filed against him by the commission made some frantic efforts through his legal counsel Mr. S.I. Ameh (SAN) to free himself on bail but that was not to come yet as the court fixed May 9 to rule on his fate over the bail issue.
Earlier, he had pray the court to allow him enjoy his bail in the new four-count amended charges brought by the anti-graft; but the court ruled that he had to remain in prison custody till the adjournment date of May 9, 2012.
While taking his plea from the dock on Monday before Justice Adamu Bello, a visibly worried Tiedi, pleaded that he was not guilty of the four-count amended charges brought against him over a multi-million naira pension scam.
His lawyer urged the court to grant him bail on grounds that he had earlier been granted bail on two separate charges in 2011, while also reminding the court that his international passport and other travel documents, alongside documents of his landed properties were already before the court.
Ameh also added that the allegations that his client used the proceeds to purchase and renovate Brifina hotel makes it impossible for him to move same property and abscond; and thus craved the indulgence of the court to release him on self recognition on very liberal terms.
The accused counsel had also noted that sending his client to prison will not improve the case of the prosecution since investigations had been concluded, and urged that, he should be instead granted bail in the interest of justice.
Responding, EFCC counsel, Godwin Obla objected to the bail application of the accused and asked the court to discountenance the submissions of the applicant since the accused had on several occasions threatened the lives of the four prosecution witnesses. He drew the attention of the court to a letter written by the commission to the state Criminal Investigation Department in Abuja in relation to the alleged threats, which according to him, was now being tendered before the court as an exhibit.
After listening to both parties, Justice Bello fixed May 9, 2012 for ruling on the bail application and remanded the accused in prison custody.