Fuel subsidy: Presidential adviser stands as surety for accused
A presidential aide, Mariam Ali, on Wednesday at an Ikeja High Court stood surety for one of the oil marketers charged with the fuel subsidy scam.
Ali stood surety for Christian Taylor, a Sierra Leonean, who was arraigned along with Nasamu Ali, her son, before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo on a three-count charge of conspiracy and obtaining by false pretences.
The duo and Nasaman Oil Services were alleged to have fraudulently obtained N4.4 billion from the Federal Government between January and April 2012.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail on the same terms earlier granted to the other accused persons, including N20 million bail with two sureties one of which must be a level 16 officer in the Lagos State or Federal Civil Service.
Mariam, who is the wife of Ahmadu Ali, erstwhile national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is the Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Inter-Governmental Relations.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday, Taylor’s counsel, Kolade Obafemi, urged the court to accept Mariam, as a “reputable and responsible Nigerian in place of a blood relation as surety”.
Obafemi added that Mariam, who is the mother of the second defendant, was ready to stand as surety for him and also use her landed property situated at Surulere, Lagos, as part of the bail bond.
“Mrs. Ali is a reputable public servant and Special Adviser to the President on Inter-governmental Relations,” he said.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, opposed the variation of the bail conditions on the grounds that Taylor was trying to “misrepresent facts”.
He said the defendant initially claimed in his statement that he was a native of Okpe Local Government Area of Delta and later claimed to be a Sierra-Leonean when he was asked to bring a surety.
In his ruling, Onigbanjo said the essence of bail was to allow the defendant to have unfettered access to his lawyers.
He announced a variation of the bail condition and asked the defendant to produce a “reputable and responsible Nigerian with landed property’’.
The case was adjourned to November 12.
In another development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday arraigned another batch of five fresh suspects implicated in the fuel subsidy scam. The suspects were arraigned before Justice Habeeb Abiru of Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.
Equally, Justice Abiru granted Abdullahi Alao and Axenergy Limited bail. They were arraigned last week.
The five suspects are Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer, Ezekiel Olaleye Ejidele, and Ontario Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.
They were arraigned on a nine-count charge bordering on obtaining property by false pretences, altering, forgery and conspiracy.
The EFCC had on July 25 taken the suspects to court in order to arraign them but the absence of one of the suspects, Walter Wagbatsoma, stalled the arraignment.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, told the court the matter was for arraignment.
The suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges when the charges were read.
Counsel to Wagbatsoma and Ontario Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited, Babajide Koku, said he had filed an application before the court, urging it to grant the defendants bail based on self-recognition.
Via Daily Post