A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja will on Tuesday, June 27th 2012 decide if it will allow former governor of Bayelsa state Mr. Timipre Sylva travel outside Nigeria for medical care.
Mr Sylva, through his counsel; Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, tendered medical documents on Monday, asking the court to allow him travel to South Africa on health reasons.
He argued that for the court to have granted bail to his client, the court knows that he (Mr Sylva) will make himself available when his trial commences.
The counsel noted that the application to travel abroad, is a classic example of the constitutional principle of the right to life and freedom and he also urged the court to take particular notice that the application borders on the well being of his client because “only a living being can stand trial in any court of law” he said.
But counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Oghenevu Otemu objected to the application.
He told the court that the defendant has not sufficiently shown the court why he should be granted the leave for a medical trip to South Africa.
Mr. Otemu also argued that Mr. Sylva did not give details of the kind of ailment he is suffering from, adding that a Nigerian hospital cannot cater for his health needs.
He further argued that granting the application of the accused person will affect ongoing investigations by the anti-graft agency.
He therefore urged the court to refuse the application.
Listening to the two parties, presiding Judge, Justice Adamu Bello fixed 27th of June 2012 to deliver his ruling on the application.
The former governor, who is standing trial on a six count charge of diverting N4.45 billion belonging to Bayelsa state for his personal use, is on bail in the sum of N100 million, one surety who owns a landed property within the jurisdiction of the Federal Capital Territory.
Justice Adamu Bello also ordered Sylva to deposit his entire travel document with the Chief Registrar and also ensure that he doesn’t leave the country without permission from the court.
A tentative trial date has been fixed for September 19th 2012 for trial to commence.
A Federal High Court in Abuja, has granted the former governor of Bayelsa state, Timipre Sylva, a bail of N100 million, which allows him leave detention, while his trial lasts.
Presiding judge, Justice Adamu Bello, released the former governor on bail in the sum of N100 million with one surety who must own a landed property within the Federal Capital Territory.
The surety is to deposit document for the property with the chief registrar of the court who is to verify the title of deeds.
The former governor was also ordered to deposit all his travelling documents with the chief registrar of the court, to ensure that he does not leave the country without the permission of the court.
The former Bayelsa state governor is standing trial for allegedly embezzling the sum of N4.45 billion from the Bayelsa state’s government treasury while he was in office.
Counsel to Sylva, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi welcomed the bail conditions, saying they are fair enough and will be fulfilled immediately.
While counsel to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Festus Keyamo, also agreed that the conditions for the former governor’s bail are okay.
He stated that the commission is ready to proceed with the trial of the former governor with 10 witnesses already lined up to testify against the defendant.
Despite the bail, attempts by the defence counsel to stop the anti-graft operatives from returning the governor to their office met a brick wall as the officials insisted that his bail conditions must be fulfilled before he is set free.
Former governor of Bayelsa state, Timipre Sylva on Tuesday denied allegations that he is hiding from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after the court granted the commission permission to paste the six-count money laundering charges at the front gate of his Abuja residence located within the Maitama District. This was disclosed in a press statement signed by the Doifie Ola, media aide to the ex-governor.
“We wish to clarify that Sylva is not on the run. He is not a fugitive from justice,” the statement reads.
In the statement, Mr Ola said that his boss is “a firm believer in the law and has been at the forefront of efforts to etch respect for law, rules and regulations on the national conscience.”
He said the Mr Sylva “decided to keep a low profile because he does not want his security to be compromised.
“The whole world has been living witness to the brazen disrespect for our laws which those charged with the maintenance of law and order in the land have exhibited since the outbreak of their riotous governorship adventure in Bayelsa State.
“If those we all should rely on for our security could so blatantly run riot on our laws and liberties, it is not hard to determine the extent they can go against the one they have openly declared the target of all their illicit manoeuvres in the state.
The former governor’s spokesman further said that “the suit brought against Sylva by the EFCC involves N2.45 billion Bayelsa State funds, not N6.450 billion as a section of the media has reported.
“This is government money used for government business. Since 2010 when the matter went to court, no evidence has been produced by the prosecution to support the claim of money laundering and other financial crimes against any of the defendants,” he added.
The EFCC has sued Mr Sylva on charges of conspiracy, money laundering and obtaining by false pretence, contrary to sections 1(1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2004 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.
The commission alleged that the ex-governor looted public funds under the guise of using the monies to augment salaries of the Bayelsa State Government, even as it identified three persons whose bank accounts, it said was used as conduit pipes for transfer of the illicit funds.
Names of the said accomplices were given as Habibu Sani Maigidia, a Bureau de Change operator with Account No. 221433478108, in Fin Bank, Plc, Enson Benmer Limited with Account No. 6152030001946, in First Bank, Plc and one John Daukoru with Account No. 04800250000418, in United Bank for Africa Plc.
The charge against Mr Sylva reads: “That you, Timipre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large, some time between October, 2009 and February 2010, at various places in Nigeria, including Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court did conspire to commit a crime to wit: conversion of properties and resources amounting to N2,000,000,000.00 (Two billion naira) belonging to Bayelsa State Government and derived from an illegal act, with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the said amount and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act), 2004 and punishable under Section 14(1) of the same Act.
“That you, Timipre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large, on or about the 22nd of January, 2010, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted N380,000,000 (Three Hundred and Eighty Million Naira), property of Bayelsa State Government, through the account of one Habibu Sani Maigidia, a Bureau de Change operator with Account No. 221433478108, in Fin Bank, Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under section 14(1) of the same Act.
“That you, Timipre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large, on or about the 5th of February, 2010, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted the sum of N50,000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira), property of the Bayelsa State Government, through the account of one Enson Benmer Limited with Account No. 6152030001946, in First Bank, Plc, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under section 14(1) of the same Act. The Court have fixed 8 May 2012 for Mr Sylva to take his plea on the charges.
President Goodluck Jonathan has assured the people of Baylesa state of non-interference of his administration on the governance in the state, even at the party level.
Mr. President made this declaration shortly after the conclusion of the People’s Democratic Party congress, held over the weekend at the Peace Park in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital. He also urged the newly elected state executives of the party to run an all-embracing leadership.
According to the president, “I assure that I will not involve myself in the politics of this state, because I am elected to see to the welfare of the entire country in Abuja. So I will leave the running of the state to the governor and his team.”
The President, an indigene of Otueke in Bayelsa, flew into the state to participate in the ruling party’s state congress ahead of its national convention in Abuja. The president was ensued in a political battle with the last governor of the state, Timipre Sylva.
Dr. Jonathan said that he was pleased by the manner with which the exercise was conducted and charged the newly elected executives of the PDP in the state to ensure maximum unity, following the process of transformation of the party.
Earlier in his valedictory speech, the former state chairman of the PDP, Deacon James Dugo, thanked the party members for their support during his tenure and urged them to give the same to whoever emerges as the new chairman after the election.
Also speaking, the newly elected governor of the state, Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson congratulated the new party’s leadership in the state, describing them as ‘lucky ones’ as their tasks will be lighter than those of their predecessors; pointing out that they will enjoy the support and partnership of the executive arm of government.
He also, charged them to hold the balance of the party under all circumstances.
In his acceptance speech as the newly elected chairman of the party in the state, Mr Samuel Enokoba, expressed his gratitude for the confidence deposed on him by the state PDP and promised to discharge his duties accordingly.