Lagos - A presidential aide, Mrs Mariam Ali, on Wednesday at an Ikeja High Court stood surety for one of the oil marketers charged with the fuel subsidy scam.
Ali stood surety for Christian Taylor, a Sierra Leonean, who was arraigned along with Nasamu Ali, her son, before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo on a three-count charge of conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence.
The duo and Nasaman Oil Services were alleged to have fraudulently obtained N4.4 billion from the Federal Government between January and April 2012.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail on the same terms earlier granted to the other accused persons, including N20 million bail with two sureties one of which must be a level 16 officer in the Lagos State or Federal Civil Service.
Mariam, who is the wife of Ahmadu Ali, erstwhile National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is the Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Inter-Governmental Relations.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday, Taylor's counsel, Mr Kolade Obafemi, urged the court to accept Mariam, as a ``reputable and responsible Nigerian in place of a blood relation as surety’’.
Obafemi added that Mariam, who is the mother of the second defendant, was ready to stand as surety for him and also use her landed property situated at Surulere, Lagos, as part of the bail bond.
``Mrs Ali is a reputable public servant and Special Adviser to the President on Inter-governmental Relations,” he said.
Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, opposed the variation of the bail conditions on the grounds that Taylor was trying to ``misrepresent facts’’.
He said the defendant initially claimed in his statement that he was a native of Okpe Local Government Area of Delta and later claimed to be a Sierra-Leonean when he was asked to bring a surety.
In his ruling, Onigbanjo said the essence of bail was to allow the defendant to have unfettered access to his lawyers.
He announced a variation of the bail condition and asked the defendant to produce a ``reputable and responsible Nigerian with landed property’’.
The case was adjourned to Nov. 12.
In another development, Justice Habeeb Abiru of an Ikeja High Court also on Wednesday granted Abdulahi Alao, another fuel subsidy accused and son of an Ibadan-based business mogul, Abdulazeez Alao-Arisekola, a bail in the sum of N100 million, with two sureties in like sum.
Alao and his company, Axenenergy Ltd, were docked by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy and fraud.
EFCC had alleged that Alao and the company had been involved in the mismanagement of N1.9 million fuel subsidy.
Abiru held that the two sureties must have landed property in Lagos.
He also barred Alao from travelling abroad without the permission of the court, adding that he should deposit his travelling documents with the EFCC.
The case has been adjourned to Oct. 22. (NAN)