JUSTICE Mohammed Idris of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on Friday, released Senator Peter Nwaoboshi charged with conspiracy and money laundering, on bail on self-recognisance.
The judge said that being a serving senator, and having repeatedly reported to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s office while on administrative bail, Mr. Nwaoboshi would not be a flight risk.
He also ruled that the senator must not travel outside the court’s jurisdiction without his order; produce two surety bonds of N50 million each within 72 hours of the ruling; and deposit his international passport with the court, reports Premium Times.
The senator stood in the dock for the almost 30 minutes the ruling lasted and as words filtered out of the court room that Mr Nwaoboshi had been released on self-recognition, cries of ‘Praise the Lord’ from the senator’s supporters rented the air.
Some of the his aides who were seated inside the courtroom hurried out to join in the celebrations.
The EFCC had arraigned Mr Nwaoboshi, his company Golden Touch Construction Projects Ltd, and Suimimg Electricals Ltd on a two count charge of conspiracy and money laundering of N322 million.
After his arraignment two days ago, the judge remanded Mr Nwaoboshi in prison pending his ruling on his bail application.
In his ruling on Friday, the judge said the seriousness of the offence should be a reason for an accelerated trial of the matter but not for denial of bail.
In their opposition to the senator’s bail application, the EFCC had argued that the deponent to the affidavit lacked the capacity to do so because he was not knowledgeable of the fact of the case.
But the judge held that the commission was unable to prove that the deponent, being the defendant’s relative, lacked the capacity, adding that the court is not allowed to speculate.
He adjourned till June 13th and 20th for trial.
The lawmaker was charged with two counts alongside two firms – Golden Touch Construction Project Limited and Suiming Electricals Limited.
Count one of the charge, accused the senator and Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd of fraudulently acquiring a property known as Guinea House situated at Marine Road, Apapa in Lagos, between May and June 2014, at a cost N805 million.
The charge stated that the defendants ought to have known that N322 million out of the purchase price formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
Count two of the charge, accused Suiming Electricals of aiding Mr Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Projects Ltd to commit money laundering.