The trial of one Philemon Gora, Osigwe Edison and Gracious Environ Workers Limited & Planners Nigeria Limited before Justice S.O. Solebo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos for an alleged N525 million fraud continued on April 28, 2022, with the trial court refusing bail for Gora, the first defendant, while granting bail to Edison, the second defendant, in the sum of N50 million.
The first defendant, Gora, was arrested by the EFCC in July 2021, following a petition alleging that he used one of his front companies, Gracious Environ Workers & Planners Nigeria Limited, to obtain the sum of N525million from a traditional ruler, Kabiyesi Jacob Esan of Ijesa, Osun State and owner of Liberitas Plc, with the assurance of helping him convert it to the United Arab Emirate, UAE, Dirham.
Gora, however, reneged on the agreement with the complainant, as investigation by the EFCC revealed that he, instead, transferred the money to his various accounts as well as to some Bureaux de Change operators, who confirmed giving him the Dollar equivalent in cash, which he diverted to his personal use.
The defendants were on December 6, 2021 arraigned on a 10-count charge bordering on stealing, conspiracy to obtain by false witness and obtaining by false pretence.
They however pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
The defence counsel, Mohammed Ofoku (for Gora) and Aloy Ezenduka (for Osigwe and Gracious Environ Workers Limited & Planners Nigeria Limited), filed the bail applications of the defendants, which today was heard by the Court.
The defence team argued that the charges against the defendants were bailable ones and that they were entitled to bail.
In opposing the bail application, the prosecuting counsel, Chineye Okezie, filed a 21-paragraph counter-affidavit, urging the Court to refuse them bail.
The prosecution further argued that Gora, who is also being prosecuted by the EFCC at a Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, jumped bail and in the period continued to commit several other offences.
His bail was also revoked by the Court.
The prosecution added that it took the EFCC some efforts to later track him down and apprehend him, and ensured his attendance at his trial at the FCT High Court.
The prosecution further urged the Court to take into cognisance “the gravity and severity of the offence”, which in the instance “makes the case one in which bail should not be granted as a matter of it being an economic crime that strikes at the foundation of the wellbeing of this nation”.
After listening to the arguments of both parties and going through their submissions, the trial judge rejected the bail of the first applicant.
The second defendant was, however, granted bail in the sum of N50 million, with two sureties in like sum, one of whom must be a property owner in Lagos with proof of authentication of title; the second surety is to show proof of gainful employment.
The case was, thereafter, adjourned till May 9 to 13, 2022 for continuation of trial.