The Federal High Court in Abuja has granted bail to a presidential aspirant and former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha.
He was granted bail on Tuesday by Justice Inyang Ekwo in the sum of N500 million and a surety in like sum.
Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the order while ruling on the bail application filed by Okorocha who currently represents Imo West senatorial district in the National Assembly.
The former governor is being tried on a 17-count charge to the tune of N2.9 billion filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He was accused of conspiring with others, including a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and five companies to steal from public coffers, although he has since denied any wrongdoing.
Arrested Before Screening
Okorocha was arraigned alongside his co-defendants on Monday by the antigraft agency before Justice Ekwo in the nation’s capital.
During their arraignment, the former governor, the second defendant – Nyerere Anyim, and the companies indicted all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Thereafter, counsel to Okorocha, Mr Okey Amaechi, prayed the court to release his client on bail, pending the determination of the case against him.
He drew the attention of the court to the fact that his client was roughly arrested last Tuesday before the screening of the presidential aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC), stressing that his ambition was at risk should he remain in detention.
On its part, the EFCC, through its lawyer, Mr Gbolahan Latona, informed the court that Okorocha raised some issues in his bail application that would require its response.
Justice Ekwo had, thereafter, adjourned the matter until Tuesday to hear Okorocha’s bail application and ordered that he should remain in EFCC custody.
Free But Restricted
When proceedings resumed today (Tuesday), Justice Ekwo ordered that the surety to be produced by Okorocha must be a responsible citizen who has landed property in the like sum of the bail granted to the presidential aspirant.
The judge also directed Okorocha to deposit his international passport with the registry of the court and should not travel outside the jurisdiction of the court without the court’s permission.
Similarly, he ordered the court registry to inform the Nigeria Immigration Service that Okorocha’s international passport was in its custody.
Justice Ekwo, however, ordered that the former governor should remain in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) until his bail conditions were met.
In his response, counsel to Okorocha, Okey Amaechi, informed the court that his client was ready to meet the bail conditions.
For Anyim, the court ruled that he should continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted to him.