The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday arraigned a former air officer, training command, Air Vice Marshal Alkali Mohammed Mamu before Justice Salisu Garba of an Abuja high court on a three-count charge of bribery.
Mamu, who was also a member of the committee for procurement in the Ministry of Defence, allegedly collected a cash gift in the sum of N5.9million for the purchase of a Range Rover Evoque; $300,000 and two vehicles, Ford Expedition SUV and Jaguar XF Saloon, valued at N15million and N12million, respectively from Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux Nigeria Limited, a contractor with the Nigerian Air Force, while in office as the AOC of the command.The offence is contrary to Section 17 (a) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 17(c) of the same Act.
One of the counts reads, “That you, AVM ALKALI MOHAMMED MAMU whilst serving as the Air Officer Commanding training Command and a member of the Committee for Procurement Ministry of Defence, Abuja between 2014 and 2015 at Abuja, within the Jurisdiction of this honourable court did accept a gift in the sum of five million nine hundred thousand (N5,900,000.00) from Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux Nigeria Limited, a contractor with the Nigerian Air Force, to make up for the purchase price of a Range Rover Evoque from Coscharis Motors Ltd in performance of your official.”
The defendant pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to him.
In view of his plea, counsel to EFCC, Cosmas Ugwu asked the court for a date for trial to commence, adding, “The prosecution intends to present six witnesses.”
He further urged the court to remand the defendant in prison custody pending trial.
Responding, counsel to the defendant, Tawo E. Tawo, SAN, said he had a pending application dated June 17, 2016 filed and served same day, praying the court to admit the defendant to bail.
Ugwu objected, saying “the motion is not ripe for hearing”.
He stated that the application was served on him late on Friday and therefore, prayed for time to respond to it.
However, his objection was over-ruled by the court.
Moving the bail application, Tawo stated that the motion is “brought pursuance to Section 162, 163 and 164 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and Section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“We seek an order to grant the defendant bail pending trial. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. He has been enjoying administrative bail and has been reporting to the Commission. We urge that the court exercise its discretion and grant the defendant bail to enable him prepare and attend trial”.
Responding, Ugwu argued that, the reliance on presumption of innocence is misplaced at this stage.
“At the stage of bail hearing, it is premature to raise issue of innocence as stated by the appeal court in the case of Nwude vs Federal Republic of Nigeria. Each of the counts attracts nothing less than five years imprisonment. The charge against the defendant is serious which is why it has no option of fine. Therefore, it will be risky to admit the defendant to bail”, Ugwu argued.
After listening to both counsel, Justice Garba adjourned to July 1, 2016 for ruling on the bail application and commencement of the trial.
The defendant is to be remanded in prison custody.