THE Honourable Justice Maryam Hassan of the Jabi Division of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court on Thursday ordered that the former Managing Director/Chief Executive of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Mrs Ngozi Olejeme, be remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) until Friday, October 22, 2021.
Justice Hassan gave the order after listening to the submissions of both prosecution and defence both counsel on the accused’s bail application, directing that Mrs Olejeme should be held in the custody of EFCC pending the ruling on the application for bail on Friday.
Olejeme, who was Chairman of the Board of Trustfund Pensions Ltd, is standing trial over an alleged case of criminal conspiracy, abuse of oﬃce, diversion of public funds and money laundering. She allegedly committed the offence between 2012 and 2015 when she was the MD/CE of the NSITF.
The one count bordering on mismanagement, giving false statement, taking kickback from contracts and diversion of NSITF funds into personal accounts and companies she had interest in, formed the basis for the defendant’s arraignment.
The offence according to prosecution contravened the provisions of sections 8, 19 (1) (b) (1), punishable under the Corrupt Practice & other Related Offences Act 2000 and Section 17, (1) (2), 39 of EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004 and punishable under the same section. Mrs Olejeme pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against her.
The prosecution counsel, Steve Odiase, prayed for a date for hearing to enable the prosecution to prove its case against the defendant.
Counsel to the defendant, Paul Erokoro, SAN, thereafter informed the court of a bail application dated and filed before it on October 18. He submitted that the application was supported by a 20-paragraphs affidavit attached with six Exhibits.
He also informed the court that his client was not a flight risk, as she voluntarily returned to Nigeria when she heard that the prosecution wanted to question her. He further stated that his client had been reporting to the Commission’s office as she was questioned and released on bail in 2017. He therefore prayed the court to grant Mrs Olejeme bail on self-recognition or in the alternative, in the most liberal terms.
He also argued that the bail application was predicated on medical grounds as the defendant has been diabetic and hypertensive for 30 years. In addition, the counsel argued that the defendant has had four major surgeries in the U.S and South Africa.
He further stated that the defendant had four months ago suffered a heart failure and got infected with the Covid-19 virus last September, submitting further that the defendant had been scheduled for another follow-up surgery in November in South Africa.
Erokoro said the defendant’s recent medical report from a medical facility stated that she required close medical monitoring as her medical status can lead to a medical emergency.
Prosecution counsel, on his part, responded that he was not opposing the bail application, but opposed to the granting of bail on self-recognition as submitted by the defence counsel.
He said that there was no consideration for bail on self-recognition in Section 165 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 and prayed the court to grant the defendant bail with reasonable surety.