Justice (Mrs.) J. O. Abdulmalik of the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan on Wednesday refused to grant bail to defendants in the N8bn mutilated currency fraud case involving staff members of the Central Bank of Nigeria and some commercial banks.
When the case came up for ruling on bail application, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission presented two witnesses at the court.
One of the witnesses, Mr. Ademola Oni, is a former banker with Wema Bank Plc while the other, Mr. Edwin Ennah, retired as the head of currency possessing and disposal unit at the CBN.
Oni had entered into plea bargaining to regain freedom from custody while Ennah was among those who were arrested when the fraud was detected in 2014 but was later released.
Oni told the court during a cross examination by the defence counsel that he came in contact with the Olaniran Muniru and Togun Kayode when he visited the CBN to deposit money.
Some of the counsel for the defendants said that the judge might have rejected the bail application of the defendants in preference for accelerated hearing.
But family members of the bankers, who came to the court in large numbers in anticipation that their loved ones would be released on bail by the judge after about three years in Agodi prison custody, said the bail application ruling was not fair.
They noted that some other accused persons in the case were granted bail after they entered into plea bargaining.
During the cross examination, Ennah said that it was discovered that packets of high denomination mutilated notes like N1000 and N500 were mixed with N100 notes, adding that sometimes when the CBN thought it had disposed off about N10bn, a far lower amount of money was actually destroyed.
This, he said, meant that the mutilated bills meant for destruction remained in circulation.
He also said that a box that was to contain N10m mutilated bills was found to contain newspapers.
Counsel for Ayodele Adeyemi, Michael Lana, said that from the statement of Ennah, the close circuit television at the treasury room was not working at that time and that Ennah should be worried that he was not told.
He also asked Ennah if he was not surprised that a controller in a department at the CBN asked them to contribute money to make up for missing amount when one of the frauds was discovered.
The leader of the prosecution defence, Tayo Olukotun, lamented that the defence counsel’s cross examination of the witnesses was ambiguous as it went outside the statement made by Ennah and was admitted by the court as exhibit.
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