Five persons accused of impersonating officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS and deceiving members of the public into parting with money for non-existent FIRS jobs and fake promotion promise to officials of the Service, were on Monday arraigned before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Justice Kolawole ordered that the five be remanded in Kuje prison custody until they meet their bail terms, to which prosecuting Counsel: Chinazo Edeh and counsel to the defendants: Ebenezer Abadaki agreed before the judge ruled.
Those docked include: Alex Oki, David Kachia, Mohammed Shuaibu, Kehinde Jamah, Ogbonna Agwu. Three other accused persons are at large.
The accused were alleged to have unlawfully assumed the character of officers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service for the unlawful purpose of deceiving unsuspecting members of the public into believing that “you are authorized officers who could get them employment into the Federal Inland Revenue Service and you thereby committed an offense punishable under Section 46 of the FIRS Establishment Act (2007).”
The suspects were also accused to have deceived members of the public to pay the sums of N16,500, N20,000 and N10,000 at different times into a UBA Account Nos: 3068721925 and 2057796059.
This, said the charge sheet, contradicts Section 419 Criminal Procedure Act, Cap C28 LFN 2007.
Citing the right of the accused persons to bail; that the offences are bailable offences and the accused persons rights’ to liberty, Abadaki asked the court to grant bail to the suspects under very liberal terms.
He cited Sections 35 (4) and 36 (5) of the 199 Constitution to press his claims.
Chinonso, counsel to the Federal Inland Revenue Service told the court that the FIRS was not opposed to bail. He noted that no member of the accused family of friend had applied for bail on behalf of the suspects.
The suspects were nabbed after months of investigation and electronic and telecommunications trail.
The suspects reportedly employed a vast network of websites, email addresses, computers, telephone lines and bank accounts- spread over different parts of the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) allegedly solicited and received money from members of the public on a non existent recruitment into the FIRS.
Some of the suspects promised they will facilitate the promotion of several FIRS officials. The suspects sent sms to spouses, relatives and persons connected to FIRS staff.
After defendants counsel: Abadaki made his plea for bail and Chinazo did not oppose but insisted on condition, Justice Kolawole adjourned sitting for about one and a half hours to enable counsel agree on bail conditions.
Afterwards, Justice Kolawole ruled that each of the accused persons be admitted to bail with two civil servants not below the rank of a Level 10 official in any tier of government, with bail in the sum of N5 million each.
Each surety is to provide a letter of introduction from his employers/Head of Department; each surety must own a landed property in Abuja valued at about N10million. Each surety must also present a Tax Clearance Certificate, TCC in the last preceding three years.
Each of the accused are to file application to the Deputy Registrar, Litigations who must duely verify that the bail conditions have been complied with.
“Pending the perfection of the bail and the fulfilment of the bail conditions”, said Justice Kolawole: “the accused persons shall be remanded in Nigeria prisons, Kuje, Abuja.
The accused are to be brought back to court and released once bail conditions are satisfied, Justice Kolawole said as he adjourned the case to 16th December, 28th January 2015 and 5th February 2014 for hearing.