By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
Justice Adeyinka Faji of the Federal High Court, Ibadan on Thursday reserved ruling on the bail applications of the ten bank officials implicated in the N8billion currency recycling scam at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ibadan branch till 19th of June.
The trial judge in the case made the declaration known after the arguments from both counsel to the prosecution and defence counsel.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the invitation of the CBN had charged all the accused persons to court due to the roles they played in defrauding the apex bank in respect of N8billion mutilated money meant to be destroyed between 2010 and 2014.
Justice Faji reserved ruling on bail application for the accused persons after their counsel had argued the application while the prosecution opposed the application, urging the trial judge to grant accelerated hearing instead.
While opposing the bail application, the prosecutor, Barrister Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) noted that all the three officials of the CBN and the five officials of the First Bank in their statements after the discovery of fraud in CBN had put down the roles they played in defrauding the apex bank.
The CBN officials involved in the scam included Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Muniru Adeola and Toogun Kayode Philip, while the First Bank staff arranged included Isaq Akano (a.k.a Isiaka), Ayodele Festus Adeyemi, Oyebanji Akeem, Ayodeji Alatishe, Ajiwe Sunday Adegoke and Idowu Oguntade, now at large.
The staff of WEMA Bank on trial, at present at large, included Oni Adekola Dolapo, Afolabi Esther Olunike, Ademola Ebenezer Adewale and Omotoso Abimbola.
Barrister Jacobs noted that the CBN discovered the huge fraud in 2010 with one box of N10 million that was supposed to be N1,000 denomination, but filled with newspapers, adding that the CBN later notified the EFCC who later discovered over 8,000 boxes not opened at the treasury of CBN .
He noted that it was when the 107 boxes of mutilated money belonging to the First Bank were opened that it was discovered that the boxes were supposed to contain N1.7 billion but over N773 million had been stolen, while the accused persons had also poured water and acid to other boxes containing N3 .960,000.
Jacobs told the court that the second accused admitted, in his statement, that he shared over N25 million out of the mutilated money, which he invested in establishing Asalam Petrol Stations along Lagos/ Ibadan expressway among others.
He stated that the first, second and third accused have other six similar cases pending before the courts and thereby not entitled to bail. Jacobs said that the fourth accused Isiaka Akano of the First Bank admitted, in his statement, stated that it was Kolawole Babalola of CBN that introduced the deal to them and that he had shared over N35 million while he shared several amounts to other co-staff of the bank that are accused in this case.
He also disclosed that the fifth accused person, Ayodeji Festus Adeyemo, admitted in his statement that he shared N15 million out of money, out of which he used N12 million to pay his dealership of MRS Petroleum, while the eight accused person, Oyebanji Akeem, used his share to build a house at Arapaja road, area of Ibadan.
He said the sixth accused, Ayodeji Alatishe, also agreed that he collected N8 million, but thinking that the money was from the proceeds of the mint money not knowing it was from mutilated cash, while the seventh accused, Ajiwe Sunday Adegoke, noted in his statement that it was Isiaka Akano that directed him to provide Kolawole Babalola empty rappers of First Bank stickers while he collected about N60 million as share from the loot.
The counsel to all the accused persons, Barrister Olayinka Bolanle, Barrister Olalekan Ojo, Barrister Nathaniel Oke (SAN), Michael Lana and Oluyemi Fasina in their bail applications had urged the court to grant their clients bail for them to be able to face their trial.
WP Correspondent reports that the case of the WEMA Bank staff is still on at the time of filing this report.