By Dayo Badmus,
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday, April 25, 2022, dismissed the bail application filed by one Bolarinwa Abiodun, a fake Army General who claimed the President nominated him as Chief of Army Staff.
Bolarinwa is being prosecuted on a 13-count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence, forgery of documents, and possession of documents containing false pretence to the tune of N266, 500,000.
The Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had, on April 11, 2022 arraigned the defendant on offences contrary to Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2006; Section 363 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015 and Section 6 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act No 14 of 2006, respectively.
One of the counts reads: “Bolarinwa Oluwasegun Abiodun, between 15th June, 2020 and 31st December 2020 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud and whilst holding yourself out as a General in the Nigerian Army, obtained the sum of N111,400,000 from Kodef Clearing Resources Limited, under the pretence that the sum represented part of the amount expended to “press and process” your incoming appointment by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, as the CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF of the Nigerian Army, which pretence you knew to be false.”
Another count reads: “Bolarinwa Oluwasegun Abiodun, sometime in May 2020 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly forged LETTER OF APPOINTMENT AS CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF dated 20th May 2020 and purported the said document to have emanated from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which document you know to be false.”
He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
Justice Taiwo had, on April 14, 2022, heard his bail application, which was moved by his counsel, Kayode Lawal.
Lawal had argued that “the law provides that all accused persons are presumed innocent until found guilty”.
He, had, therefore, urged the Court to admit his client to bail “pending the hearing and determination of this case and for such other order”.
Counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, had, however, opposed the bail application.
In his argument, Oyedepo had noted that: “This is a situation that warrants your lordship to exercise judicial discretion against the accused.”
Adopting the written address of the prosecution, Oyedepo had urged the Court to refuse the application for bail, arguing that “notwithstanding the purpose of the deposition in our two affidavits, there is no single reply from the applicant”.
Citing the case of Uket versus FRN 2007 LPLR, Oyedepo argued that “The issue is that where there is no reply to a counter-affidavit, the facts therein deposed are deemed admitted and conceded by the other party.
“Looking at the disposition of the person seeking your lordship’s discretion, is it safe for our witnesses or is it safe for us to say the man in whose custody we have found multiple ammunition and gun be released?
“We cannot put our lives in jeopardy. We will not wait until the tragic happens. We don’t want to jeopardise the life of the complainant; he’s not safe.
“My lord, this matter is everywhere. Even for his own safety, he should have a place that is safe for him; he should be in a safe custody.
“We, therefore, urge your lordship, with due respect, to refuse the application and to order accelerated hearing, as we are ready to expeditiously prosecute this case. And we assure my lordship that there will not be any delay.”
Delivering his ruling on Monday, Justice Taiwo held that “the defendant did not challenge the averment of the counter-affidavit and the further affidavit of the prosecution.
“I am, therefore, in agreement with the prosecution that the defendant constitutes a flight risk.
“Though the offences against the defendant are bailable, I am inclined to refuse the application for bail and order accelerated hearing.
“Thus, the application for bail is refused and the defendant is to remain in prison custody, and accelerated hearing is hereby ordered.”