…As court adjourns case to June 29
James Ojo, Abuja; Chinwendu Obienyi
Suspended Director General of Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, and his co-accused were yesterday arraigned in an Abuja High Court and later granted bail in the sum of N25 million in the alleged case of corruption and abuse of office.
They were arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offence Commission (ICPC) for criminal breach of trust and allegedly aiding diversion of funds even as they pleaded not guilty to fraudulent charges read to them before Hussein Baba-Yusuf, the trial judge in their case.
Gwarzo was alleged to have paid himself severance benefits of N104.8 million and N10.4 million in excess of car grant while still in service. His co-accused, Zakawanu Garba, on his part, was accused of abusing his office by allowing the payments to Gwarzo.
Gwarzo’s Counsel, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, on Tuesday, made the application for bail.
He asked the court to grant his client bail on the same conditions he enjoyed on administrative bail, adding that it is one surety who has signed the bond and is available whenever the court needs him.
The bail application was, however, granted as ICPC’s lawyer, Henry Emore, in agreement, said the offence for which the defendants were standing trial are bailable. Hussein Baba-Yusuf, however, granted them bail in the sum of N25 million each and a surety each in like sum and directed that the sureties should be civil servants in a Federal Government agency of not below the rank of Deputy Director.
He further directed them to deposit their travel documents with the court registrar as part of their bail conditions while adjourning the case for further hearing to June 29.
Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, had earlier suspended Gwarzo as SEC boss in November 2017 with embattled ex-SEC boss on Monday, June 4, challenging his suspension in court.
In a suit filed at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Gwarzo argued that the Minister of Finance had no power to suspend him as SEC DG and that it was only the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that can do so with the approval of the Senate.