• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
businessday logo


P&ID $9.6bn judgment: Briton begs for bail variation, EFCC kicks

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday objected to the bail variation canvassed by James Nolan, a Briton, who is facing trial for tax evasion and money laundering offences.
Nolan is standing trial for being a signatory to the account of the Process & Industrial Development (P&ID) Nigeria,  on amended 32-count charge.
The anti graft is accusing Nolan of being a part in the controversial gas supply contract, (P&ID) that led to $9.6bn judgement liability against Nigeria.
The prosecution said that the defendant was a signatory to accounts of P&ID, Nigeria, the In-Country Support Manager of P&ID, Virgin Island.
The prosecution alleged that the defendant engaged in money laundering and tax evasion, forgery of immigration documents, running of a trafficking syndicate and was involved in corrupting Nigerian officials.
Nolan was arraigned on Oct. 21 and  admitted  to bail on Nov. 7.
Among his bail conditions was to deposit in the sum of  N500m bail bond and a surety in like sum.
The Judge ordered the Briton who was charged alongside his compatriot, Adam Quinn (at large), to produce a serving Senator to stand surety for him in the same bail sum.
In addition, the court said the Senator must be someone that does not have a criminal case that is pending in any court in the country and must have a landed property that is fully developed in the Maitama District of Abuja.
Trial judge, Justice Okon Abang stressed that an officer of the court will verify the statutory Certificate of Occupancy of the property as issued by the Federal Capital Territory Administration.
Besides, he held that the proposed surety must submit a three years tax clearance certificate and sign an undertaking to always be present in court with the defendant throughout the duration of the trial.
The surety is to depose an affidavit of means with two passport photographs and undertake to pay the total bail sum, should the defendant escape from the country before the conclusion of his trial.
The court equally ordered the defendant to surrender all his international passports, even as it mandated the Nigerian Immigration Service to confirm how many passports that were issued to him within the past 20 years.
The stringent bail conditions followed the posecution counsel, Bala Sanga’s submission that the defendant was arrested after an extensive covert manhunt that stretched for over two weeks.
However, when the matter came on Thursday, EFCC Counsel,  Sanga told the court that the anti-graft agency would file a counter-affidavit to challenge the bail variation.
Sanga explained that Nolan’s Lawyer, Chris Ezugwu, had in less than 24 hours, served on him the further affidavit, seeking the court’s leave to grant their request.
“I apply for a shift in the date to take our arguments, My Lord, in order to enable us to file a counter-affidavit in response to further affidavit served on us less than 24 hours before the court sitting.
“We were serve about 2pm yesterday (Wednesday),” he said.
The prosecution counsel, therefore, prayed the court to give him some days to file his counter-affidavit on Nolan’s request.
Sanga said that the commission was against Nolan’s plea for bail variation because of the peculiar circumstances of the case.
According to him, we are opposed to the court making the conditions of bail lighter because there are some documents from Nigeria Immigration Service that are indicative of the fact that Nolan committed immigration quota trafficking and possibly could be illegal alien.
The EFCC’s lawyer said if granted the request, Nolan might jump bail.
Defendant’s lawyer, Ezugwu, who acknowledged serving the fresh application on Sanga the previous day, objected to the EFCC’s plea for adjournment.
Justice Abang, thereafter, adjourned proceeding till Dec. 6 for further hearing on the application of bail variation.
He said the adjournment became necessary in the interest of justice.
“I think it is in the interest of justice to adjourn this matter to enable the prosecution respond to further affidavit serve on them by the defendant’s counsel,” the judge held.