THE Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday granted bail to a former Chairman of the defunct Skye Bank, now Polaris Bank, and a former Managing Director of the bank, Timothy Oguntayo in the sum of N50 million each in a money laundering suit slammed against them by the Federal Government.
The duo was arraigned yesterday before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba on an eight-count charge, bordering on money laundering of the sum of N4.75 billion and $5 million.
Both defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read out to them.
Following the not guilty plea, the prosecuting counsel, Abba Mohammed prayed the court for a date to commence trial and asked that the defendants be remanded in prison custody pending commencement of trial.
Counsel to Ayeni and Oguntayo, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) Tola Oshodi (SAN) respectively, told the court that there were pending bail applications filed on behalf of their clients which had already been served on the prosecution.
Prosecution counsel, however, opposed the bail application and the trial Judge stressed the need for a speedy trial as provided for by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
He, however, asked the prosecution whether the offences to which the defendants were charged was bailable or not, and the prosecution answered in the affirmative.
Justice Dimgba also asked whether the prosecution will oppose the bail application? The prosecution equally answered in the affirmative.
The Judge stood down the matter for ten minutes and asked parties to meet and agree on the bail condition.
When the parties came back, the prosecution prayed the court to decide on the matter judicially and judiciously.
The Judge subsequently admitted the duo to bail in the sum of N50 million each and two sureties each in likes sum.
The court had earlier noted the submission of the defence counsel, that the defendants are on administrative bail by the EFCC, and that they have been on their own keeping their dates with the anti-graft agency for over a year now.
Justice Dimgba in granting the bail gave the defendants 36 hours to perfect the condition and also ordered that, should any of the sureties be a civil servant, the person must be an assistant director and if a private citizen, the person must own landed property in Abuja or Lagos.
The sureties, the Judge held must present to the court, evidence of ownership of such property.
The defendants are to deposit their international passport with the registry of the court, and should not travel out of the country without the consent of the court.
The court then adjourned till February 13 and 14 next year for commencement of trial.
Part of the charge reads, “That you, Mr Tunde Ayeni whilst being the Chairman Board of Directors of Skye Bank Plc and Timothy Oguntayo whilst being the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Skye Bank between 2014 and 2015 conspired at different times to do an illegal act. to wit: caused cash delivery to you Ayeni of the sums of money totaling N4.75 billion and $5 million belonging to Skye Bank Plc contrary to the provisions of Section 1(a) of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as Amended) read together with section 18(a)of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as Amended) and punishable under Section 16(2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as Amended).
*That you Dr. Tunde Ayeni whilst being the Chairman, Board of Directors of Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank Plc) on or about the 23″ January 2014 at Abuja within the Abuja Judicial Division of this Honourable Court did accept cash payment in the sum of N1, 000,000,00000 from staff of Skye Bank Plc being money belonging to Skye Bank Plc, contrary to the provisions of section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as Amended) and punishable under section 16(1)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as Amended) read together with section 16(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as Amended).”