Posted by News Express | 14 May 2015 | 3,436 times
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arraigned the Kwara State Commissioner for Information, Prince Olatunji Oyeyemi Moronfoye, and Ope Saraki, cousin to Bukola Saraki, former governor of Kwara State and Senior Special Adviser on Millennium Development Goals to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, before Justice A.O Faji of the Federal High Court, Ilorin, for offences bordering on abuse of office, awarding contracts to cronies, diversion of public funds and money laundering.
Moronfoye was docked on a three-count charge while Saraki, who was arraigned alongside his companies- Cogent Integrated Service Nigeria Limited and Ladida Support Service Limited- were arraigned separately on a five count charge.
Moronfoye while being the Senior Special Adviser to the former governor (Bukola Saraki) allegedly used his position to enrich himself.
Specifically, he allegedly awarded contracts to the tune of over N200m for the renovation of Ijagbo Primary Health Centre and Specialist Hospitals within the state, to a company in which he has interest and was the sole signatory to the account.
Saraki similarly abused his office and laundered state funds for his personal benefit by awarding inflated contracts to companies owned by his cronies.
In one of the transactions involving the purchase of Ambulance Buses for hospitals in the state, Saraki duped the people of Kwara State by procuring 13 Hiace buses from a
“Local Car Dealer” and converting them to ambulance in place of factory built ambulance for which a contract of N171,990,000.00 was awarded to Chemiroy Nigeria Limited.
One of the counts read:
“That you, Ope Saraki being the Special Adviser on Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to Governor of Kwara State sometime in 2012 at Ilorin within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did by undue interest conducted procurement fraud in the procurement of 13 Units of Ambulance for 13 General/Specialist Hospitals in Kwara State at the sum of N171,990, 000.00 (One Hundred and Seventy One Million, Nine Hundred and Ninety Thousand Naira only) a contract awarded to Chemiroy Nigeria Limited and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 58 (4) (b) of the Public procurement Act, 2007 and punishable under Section 58 (5) of the same Act.”
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them.
Upon their pleas, counsel to EFCC Joseph O. Uzor urged the court to fix a date for trial to commence. But, the defence, represented by J.O Olatoke, SAN, told the court that, he had a pending application for the bail of the accused persons.
Moving the application, Olatoke, argued that bail is a constitutional right of the accused noting that the accused has been on administrative bail of the Commission since 2013 and had not breached the bail condition.
Olatoke further told the court that, the accused, Moronfoye, is suffering from a peculiar ailment that warrant him using respirator consistently to sustain his life. According to him, the prison service does not have the medical facility to treat and maintain the peculiar health condition of the accused.
“Having not abused the administrative bail granted him (Moronfoye) by the prosecution, we urge your Lordship to admit him to bail while assuring you that he will always be available to stand his trial,” Olatoke pleaded.
However, Uzor countered, saying that “the accused could be evasive if admitted to bail”.
Uzor argued that the Nigeria Prisons Service had well organised medical facilities in its locations across the country with equipments and competent manpower to attend to any ailment. He urged the court to exercise its discretion judicially and judiciously.
After listening to the submissions of both counsel, Justice Faji admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N50m and two sureties in like sum. The sureties must produce “Certificate of Occupancy” of landed property within urban area of Ilorin and must swear to affidavit of means. The sureties must also produce evidence of tax payment for three years. The accused must be reporting to EFCC Head Office every three weeks and must also notify EFCC whenever he intends to travel outside the country.
Eventually, when Saraki’s case was called, since the case is similar to that of Moronfoye, both parties conceded that the court has a discretionary power to grant bail.
In the circumstance, Justice Faji adopted his earlier ruling on the bail application granted Moronfoye. The difference in the two rulings is that while Moronfoye retains custody of his International Passport, Saraki would have his own deposited with the court.
The case has been adjourned to September 22, 2015 and October 20, 2015 respectively, for hearing.
•Photo shows Olatunji Oyeyemi Moronfoye.
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