The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, Thursday, granted bail to the former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh (retd), to the tune of N2 billion. Badeh, who has been in detention since February 8, is answering to a 10-count criminal charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. He is facing trial over allegation that he fraudulently diverted about N3.9 billion from account of the Nigerian Air Force within 2013. Trial Justice Okon Abang had on Monday, when the former military chief was docked by the anti-graft agency, ordered that he be remanded in Kuje prison pending the determination of his bail application.
At the resumed sitting, yesterday, Badeh, through his lawyer, Mr. Samuel Zibiri, SAN, begged the court to grant him bail on self recognition or on most liberal terms. Zibiri anchored the bail request on provisions of Sections 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as Sections 156, 162 and 165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015. He argued that all the allegations levelled against Badeh were bailable offences. Despite vehement opposition the EFCC raised against the bail application, trial Justice Abang overruled the agency, saying he was minded to exercise his discretion in favour of the defendant. The court maintained that under section 36 of the Constitution, the defendant ought to be presumed innocent until his guilt is established. Justice Abang said fears EFCC expressed regarding the possibility of the defendant escaping out of the country once out of detention, was not enough to persuade the court to deny him bail. “The court is enjoined to err on the side of protecting the liberty of the defendant until contrary is proved”, he held.
He said EFCC’s allegation that Badeh would jump bail was nothing but “mere speculation,” adding that the Federal Government has the capacity to handle such situation. Consequently, Justice Abang said he would in view of the amount contained in the charge, grant the defendant bail to the tune of N2 billion with two sureties who are to deposit N1 billion each. The court ordered that the sureties must not only be residents in Abuja, but must own landed property in the Federal Capital Territory with a valid Certificate of Occupancy. It said the Chief Registrar of the court must authenticate the ownership and value of the property. Justice Abang directed that upon being put on notice by the defendant, the EFCC should within 24 hours, independently ascertain the residence of the sureties as well as their ownership and value of the landed property. Besides, the sureties are to provide their three years tax clearance certificates, deposit the original title documents of the property, and also depose to an affidavit of means. The sureties, according to the court, must also submit their two recent passport photographs, as well as produce a convincing evidence that they have the means to pay the total sum contained in the charge, should the defendant jump bail.