4th March, 2013
Nnamdi Felix / Abuja
Convicted pension thief, John Yahaya Yusufu, who is standing trial on an alleged false declaration of assets on Monday slumped in the dock while his trial was in progress.
The accused is standing trial for not disclosing his interest in a N250 million fixed deposit which was fixed in the name of a company known as SY-A Global Services Limited, incorporated by him and solely owned by him and members of his immediate family at Zenith Bank International Plc.
He was also alleged to have a N10 million fixed deposit in an account his company maintains at First Bank of Nigeria Plc and another N29 million fixed through one Mr. Danjuma Mele, who is also scheduled to testify as a witness in the trial.
Soon as the court resumed, Yusufu’s lawyer, Mr. Maiyaki, moved an application seeking bail for the recently convicted pension thief. He told the court that the offence for which his client is standing trial is ordinarily bailable and that the court is empowered by the law to exercise discretion in granting bail to an accused person and urged that the discretion be exercised in his client’s favour.
The application was opposed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The commission’s lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacob, a senior advocate of Nigeria invited the court to take into cognizance the recent conviction of the accused on the charge of criminal breach of trust which clearly shows that Yusufu’s antecedent does not encourage the court to exercise its discretion in his favour.
Mr. Jacob also pointed out that Yusufu did not deny his previous conviction on criminal breach of trust in the affidavit he filed in support of his application for bail and urged the court to consider the gravity of his present offence, which is felony, an offence punishable with imprisonment term of five years, as the proof of evidence filed alongside the charge, and to deny him bail.
He further told the court that it is in the interest and safety of the accused person to be kept in custody to prevent the possibility of being mobbed by some aggrieved members of the public who are seriously aggrieved about the seeming mildness of the sentence imposed on his upon his earlier conviction of criminal breach of trust.
The court, after listening to both lawyers, decided that Yusufu’s trial should go on while a date should be fixed for ruling on his bail application.
This was unsuccessfully protested by Yusufu’s lawyer who suggested that the matter be adjourned for ruling on the bail application before the substantive trial can commence. The court insisted on going ahead with the trial which had been specifically scheduled for today.
On that note, the EFCC lawyer called their first witness, a civil servant working with the anti graft agency under Asset Forfeiture and Tax Investigation Unit, Mr. Mustapha Sani.
No sooner had the witness commenced his testimony than Yusufu, who had been standing in the dock, started shaking violently.
His lawyer pleaded with the court to allow the accused person to sit down, a request that was promptly granted by the court but as the accused made to sit down on the seat inside the dock, he slumped forward across the wooden dock. His lawyer and prison officials who had brought him to court from Kuje prison rushed to him and assited him to sit on the seat.
At this juncture, the court indicated that the accused is not fit to continue with the trial and adjourned the trial to 22nd April.
His lawyer requested that Yusufu be allowed access to his personal physician for urgent medical attention. The court acquiesced and directed the Prison authority to allow his doctor to attend to him.
Ruling on his bail application was thereafter fixed for 11th March.