By Kunle Olasanmi, Abuja
A former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu has been arraigned before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on eight-count money laundering charge.
The former governor was arraigned alongside the 2015 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, Umar Nasko, over allegation that they conspired and diverted over N1billion from Ecological Fund the state received from the Federal Government in 2014.
Last week, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned them before an High Court of Minna on a similar charge.
In the charge, the accused were were alleged to have diverted the ecological fund which they allegedly paid into the account of a private company, D-Sabrin International Limited.
When the charge was read to them, the accused person pleaded not guilty.
They, however, prayed the court to allow them on bail pending the determination of the criminal case against them.
The defendants, through their counsel, Mamman Usman, SAN, argued that the charge against them contained bailable offences, stressing that they were earlier granted administrative bail by the anti-graft agency.
Prosecution counsel, Ben Ikani, did not oppose the bail application but prayed the court to impose conditions that would secure the presence of the defendants for their trial.
In his ruling, the trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba granted the former governor and his co-defendants bail in the sum N200 million with two sureties each.
Justice Dimgba held that the sureties could be public servants or professionals.
“When in public service, the surety must not be below the rank of a director”, the court held.
He further held that the two sureties must be owners of landed property within the Federal Capital Territory and not in the satellite towns.
Justice Dimgba ordered the defendants to surrender their international passports and not travel outside the country except with the express permission of the court.
He also held that operatives of EFCC must confirm that all the bail conditions were fully perfected.
“The defendants are however to be remanded in Kuje Prison if the bail is not perfected within 48 hours”, the Judge ruled.
The case was subsequently adjourned till 6 and 7 July for hearing.
The defendants had however filed preliminary objection challenging their trial in Abuja.
The former governor and his co-defendant who are equally facing a separate charge before a high court at Minna, Niger State, are contending that the Federal High Court in Abuja lacks the territory jurisdiction to entertain the case.
They argued that FG ought to have arraigned them in Niger State where the alleged offence was committed.