They however pleaded not guilty to the charges when read to them and their lawyers Akinlolu Kehinde SAN, informed the court of an application for their bail filed on the 14 of June, 2017.
Reacting, prosecution counsel, Mr. David Ighodo, however asked the court to remand the defendants in prison custody pending their trial, stressing that the charges preferred against them were grievous.
Igbodo, while not denying knowledge of the bail application, said bail should not precede arraignment.
He added that the prosecution would respond to the application accordingly and urged the court to remand the defendants till trial commences.
Trial Judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba however asked the prosecution if the charges against the defendants were bail able and if they have been granted bail by the police.
When the prosecution answered in the affirmative, the court then stood down the case for ten minutes and directed counsel to meet and agree on certain conditions for bail for the defendants which would be subjected to the approval of the court.
When the court resumed, Igbodo informed the court that counsel have agreed that the defendants be granted bail on the existing conditions except that their traveling documents including international passports be deposited with the court to ensure that they always attend court for their trial.
He said the police had granted the defendants bail in the sum of N5m and a surety who was a civil servant.
However, Justice Dimgba granted the defendants bail in the sum of N100m each with two sureties in like sum. The court said the sureties who must be private or professional business persons or public servants who must not be less than grade level 15 must own landed property within Abuja metropolis.
They are also to deposit their international passports with the court and must not travel out of the country without the permission of the court.
He said he granted the bail because the defendants were already enjoying administrative bail and were also available in court to face their trial.
He however ordered that the defendants would be remanded in prison if they fail to meet the bail conditions within 48 hours.
He also adjourned till July 4 and 5, 2017 for commencement of trial.
Part of the charge reads: That you Hao Aijun ‘f’, Liu Yangxi ‘m’, Obi Anthony Chibuzo ‘m’ and others at large between July 2016 and August 2016 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, conspired among yourselves, to wit fraudulent conversion of the total sum of N971m (Nine hundred and seventy one million) naira a fund belonging to BN Ceramics Industry Nigeria Ltd which was domiciled in the Zenith Bank Plc account number 1013840111 a fund which you know or reasonably ought to know, forms part of proceeds of an Unlawful act and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18 and punishable under section 15 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended.
Court Discharges Senator Ndume of Terrorism Charges
Immediate-past majority leader in the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, is discharged from the four count terrorism charge preferred against him by the Federal Government since November 2011.
Ndume, representing Borno South Senatorial District in the Senate was set free by Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court in Abuja on the ground that no prima facie case was established against the federal lawmaker in the terrorism charge.
Delivering ruling in the no case submission argued by Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN) on behalf of Ndume, Justice Kolawole held that the prosecution failed in all fronts to link the defendant with the alleged heinous crime of hoarding information on terrorism activities and sponsorship the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
Justice Kolawole, while striking out all the four-count charge faulted the prosecution in the failure to call eminent personalities to give evidence in respect of the charge against the defendant.
Specifically, the Judge said that while the defendant admitted having contact with Boko Haram sect as a result of his appointment as a member of the Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North Eastern Part of the country and also admitted volunteering information to the Director of the State Security Service (SSS) and former Vice President, Namadi Sambo on Boko Haram operations, the prosecution never considered it necessary to invite the named people to give evidence in the trial as required by law.
The Judge said that the failure of the prosecution to invite those personalities to give evidence was fatal to the case as it hindered the prosecution from discharging the burden of proof.
Justice Kolawole further said that from the totality of the evidence of the witnesses, the prosecution failed to give ingredients of the charges that would have warranted the Senator to be compelled by the court to enter his defence in indictment charge.
He said the evidence of the Information Technology (IT), expert. Mr. Peter Olayiwola did not, in any way help the prosecution because the content of the phone of one Boko Haram spokespersons, Aliyu Umar Konduga used to communicate with the defendant only revealed text messages on greetings when analyzed by the expert and not on crime sponsorship.
He said none of the witnesses called by the prosecution gave valuable evidence upon which the defendant could have been linked with the crime.
The Judge further said that it is a settled law that where doubts arise in a criminal trial, such doubts must be resolved in favour of the defendant.
“What is more, the defendant in this matter admitted having contact with the Boko Haram sect but that he did so as a result of his appointment as a member of the Presidential Committee on Security challenges in the North Eastern part of the country.
“In the same vein, the defendant in the three different statements he made to the DSS upon his arrest made it clear that he volunteered the information on his contact with the terrorism group to the director of the State Security Service in the National Assembly and also to the Vice President for their information.
“It is worrisome that despite the fact that the defendant mentioned names of those he volunteered information to, the prosecution never considered it necessary to call any of the named people to confirm the claim of the defendant, this to me left a big gap in the case of the prosecution”, he added.
Justice Kolawole therefore struck out the four count charges and as well discharge Senator Ndume from the alleged crime.
The Judge also ordered that the traveling passport the defendant submitted to the Deputy Director Litigation of the Court as part of the bail conditions should be forthwith released to him.
The Federal Government had, in 2011 arraigned Ndume on the four count criminal charge of hoarding information in respect of his contact with the Boko Haram sect and for also allegedly sponsoring terrorism act in the North Eastern part of the country.
However, at the close of the prosecution’s case, Ndume, through his counsel, Ricky Tarfa (SAN) on June 6, 2017 made a no case submission and prayed the court to set him free from the criminal charges against him on the ground that he was not in any way linked with the crime.