NEW THING: Nigerian Judge Convicts Council Chairman For Fraud, Then Grants Him Bail

In what appears to be an unprecedented decision in judicial history, a Nigerian judge has granted bail to a former council chairman already serving a prison term for fraud.

Justice I. E Ekwo of the Federal High Court Lokoja, Kogi State, Thursday gave a ruling, granting bail to a former chairman of Adavi Local Government Council, Enesi Jimoh, whom he had earlier convicted and sentenced to six-months imprisonment without option of  fine for criminal misappropriation of public fund.

Mr. Jimoh, who was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was found guilty by Justice Ekwo on November 13, 2013 of converting N7 million belonging to the Council for personal use, according to a statement Thursday by EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren.

He was arraigned by the EFCC alongside one Samuel Abiodun Ojo, a Commissioner for Agriculture, in March 31, 2010.

Mr. Ojo was however discharged by the court after a no-case submission was filed by his counsel in June, 2012.

Mr. Uwujaren added that upon his conviction, the former council boss, through his counsel, Olu Agunbiade, filed an appeal seeking a review of his conviction.

Mr. Agunbiade wrote to the prison authorities in Koton-Karfe demanding the health status of the accused person.

On the strength of that letter, the prison authorities took the convict to a specialist hospital where he was allegedly diagnosed of lung cancer.

Mr. Agunbiade also presented to the court a letter from the prison authorities stating that the hospital does not have facilities to treat lung cancer. On the strength of these letters, the lawyer prayed the court to grant his client bail on health grounds.

However, counsel to the EFCC, Wahab Shittu vehemently opposed the application on the grounds that it would be tantamount to throwing the prison gate open to convicted persons who would want to use health issues to escape serving jail terms.

Mr. Shittu also told the court that the presumption of innocence was no longer available to the convict having been convicted and sentenced.

While dismissing the application as incompetent, Mr. Shittu assured the court that the state would give adequate medical attention to the convict even if it means sending him abroad for treatment However, in his ruling, Justice Ekwo granted the convict bail in the sum of N15million and one surety in like sum.

The surety must be a responsible citizen and owner of landed property within the jurisdiction of the court which value shall not be below the bail sum.

The original title deed shall be deposited at the court registry and the surety shall depose to an affidavit of means.  

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