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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Nigerian senator accused of forgery granted bail by court

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A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on Thursday, admitted a senator, Benson Konbowei (PDP Bayelsa), bail in the sum of N50 million.Mr Konbowei, who represents Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, was earlier arraigned on a three-count charge bordering on forging the National Youth Service Corps exemption certificate among others.

Read also Nigerian lawmaker arraigned for alleged forgery of NYSC certificate

The counsel to the police, Reuben Egwaba, had opposed the bail application for the defendant.

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He noted that the defendant would interfere with his trial if granted bail.

“While the charge was filed, the defendant took several steps to interfere with the matter.

“He also wrote a lot of petitions against me to truncate the matter. We urge my lord to refuse the application,” he urged the court.

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The counsel for the defendant, Gordy Uche, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, urged the court to grant his client bail, assuring the court he would not jump bail if granted one.

Ruling on the bail application, the trial judge, Christopher Oba, said the defendant must provide two sureties in the like sum who must have landed properties in the Federal Capital Territory.

Mr Oba said the Certificate of Ownership (C of O) of the sureties must be confirmed to be authentic.

He, however, ordered that the senator be remanded in Kuje correctional facility pending the perfection of his bail conditions.

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“The law is settled that bail is at the discretion of the court. Taking a look at the matter, it is not a capital offence.

The judge then declined an oral application moved by the defendant’s lawyer to write an undertaken to produce the senator in court until he perfects his bail.

He subsequently, adjourned the matter until 24 June for a hearing.

Earlier, a former senator, Moses Cleopas, while being led in evidence by the prosecution counsel admitted to writing the defendant’s primary school and discovered some inconsistency in his certificate.

Mr Egwaba sought to tender the letter and the response as exhibits, but the defendant’s lawyer objected.

“This document is not relevant to the charges preferred against the defendant. Count one deals with fraudulent forgery of the exemption certificate.

“There was nowhere his first school leaving certificate was mentioned. Sections 4, 5 7, and 9 of the Evidence Act have settled this. Also, these documents were not signed and not dated.

“An unsigned document is worthless in law. It doesn’t pass the test of admissibility. It also has no name of the officer who signed it. It contains no evidence that any money was paid to get the certified copies of the documents” he told the court.

But Mr Egwaba said the documents set to be tendered were responses to a letter the former senator wrote.

“There are original copies of a letter addressed to Moses, a private individual. A letter issued from a public office to an individual cannot be certified. A photocopy can be tendered if the foundation is laid for it.

”Attached to the letter were private documents. It does not need to be certified. Count three is relevant to the document we seek to tender. He lied on oath to INEC.

“Also, the primary school certificate was frontloaded in their process and also included in their proof of evidence. We will amend our charges. We urge you to discount his objections. This document shows that he is a serial forger” he told the court.

The trial judge overruled Mr Uche and admitted the documents as exhibits.

(NAN)

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