The Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) and Gas Resources, Rep. Nicholas Mutu, was on Monday, formerly docked the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) at a Federal High Court, Abuja, over alleged graft of N320.1 million.
But despite Court order granting him continuation of administrate bail, Mutu who represents the Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency of Delta State at the House of Representatives was re-arrested by officials of the EFCC.
Mutu who was earlier arraigned before Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo on 11-count charge by the EFCC, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
While the EFCC is the plaintiff, the lawmaker, Airworld Technologies Ltd. and Oyien Homes Ltd. were 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.
The counsel to the anti-graft agency, Ekele Iheanacho, opposed the release of Mutu on bail, despite the pleas of the defendant’s counsel, P.I.N. Ikwueto, SAN.
Iheanacho narrated how the defendant had been evasive and refused to report to the commission’s office in line with administrative bail granted him on Aug. 16, 2018, after his arrest on allegations bordering on corruption.
He argued that since the bail was taken by his lawyer then, Anthony Ikoli, SAN, the defendant refused to report to the commission’s office despite several demands for him to report.
The prosecution also informed court that although at a point, the defendant’s sureties were arrested for them to show cause why they should not forfeit the bail sum, Mutu failed to turn up “until today’s hearing because of the fear of the warrant of arrest.”
According to Iheanacho, his coming today was not based on voluntariness but the fear that warrant of arrest will be issued against him.
He reminded that the case had been heard at least three times before the judge and that on the last adjourned date on Jan. 20, he applied for issuance of warrant of arrest on the legislator.
The anti-graft commission’s lawyer insisted that the lawmaker did not deserve any leniency from the court having acted in a manner that did not deserve the court’s favouarable discretion.
But Ikwueto, however, said in the last adjourned date, he pleaded that he would produce the defendant in court and he did.
He urged the court to discountenance the prosecution’s application and release Mutu to him on recognition, pending the hearing of the bail application.
He assured that his client would always be in court at every adjourned date.
Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo, however, noted that since there was no motion for bail in the court record, Ikwueto should file the bail application before the close of work.
The judge then granted the plea of the defence counsel and ordered that the defendant should continue to enjoy the previous administrative bail granted to him by the EFCC during the investigation.
“I will give him the benefit of doubt,” she ruled.
Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo ordered that Ikwueto to file the application for bail and serve the prosecution before the next adjourned date.
The judge also said that she would hear the bail application first in the next adjourned date.
She then adjourned hearing in the matter till Feb. 25, March 4 and March 5, April 22 and April 23 and May 5 and May 6.
However, there was a drama outside the court’s premises as EFCC operatives rearrested Mutu and whisked him away to their office.