By Taiye Agbaje
The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, thrown out the application for bail variation filed by the British national, James Nolan.
Justice Okon Abang, who dismissed the prayer, said the application lacked merit.
The judge wondered why Nolan could not respond to the serious allegations leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that he forged resident permit and that if granted bail he might jump bail.
According to Justice Abang, I took a risk in admitting the 3rd defendant (Nolan) to bail.
Justice Abang said he was surprised that no attempt was made by the defendant to fulfill the bail conditions.
He was skeptical at the speed the Briton applied for bail variation, following the court’s decision to grant his initial bail application.
Abang said Nolan, in his statements in Paragraph 9, Sub-paragraph 11 to 13 of his affidavit in support of his application, told the court that he had lived in Nigeria for over 20 years and had been part of Nigerian community and had invested in human and infrastructural development in different communities in Nigeria through his companies.
“He said he constructed a primary school block and a modern access bridge in Bauchi State.
“He even exhibited the photographs of the primary school block and the access bridge constructed by the application in Bauchi State and marked Exhibit JRA4, Exhibit JRA5 respectively,” he said.
According to the judge, having constructed a school and modern bridge in Bauchi State, the defendant ought to have approached at least a senator representing that area.
He said there was no evidence before the court to show that Nolan reached out to a senator to stand as a surety and the senator turned down his request.
According to Abang, this would have made the court to believe in the defendant that he has made effort to secure a senator as his surety and it was not possible, and therefore the need for the court to vary the bail conditions.
“It is not impossible to secure a senator as surety but the defendant made no effort in this regard,” he held.
The judge said a person who had invested so much in human and infrastructural development cannot claim that no senator is prepared to stand a surety for him.
“In fact, I even took a risk in admitting defendant to bail, having regards to what the constitution placed before the court and having regards to the peculiar facts of the case.
“The prosecution stated that the defendant is a foreigner who forged resident permit and the prosecution informed the court in a letter from Immigration Service to this effect.
“The defendant did not react to this serious allegation and I do not have to wait till prosecution proved the case beyond reasonable doubt.
The judge said he had to consider the chances of the defendant standing trial, following the allegation that the defendant might jump bail if granted.
He therefore said he could only release Nolan to a surety that has a major stake in the affairs of the county, who could produce him in court whenever he is needed for trial.
He expressed concern that if Nolan jumped bail, the court could not guarantee where he would run to.
“It was also alleged that Nolan and his collaborators induced Nigerian officers into fraudulent contract which led to an award of 9.6 billion dollars against Nigeria in UK, that the 3rd defendant is at the heart of this companies, in fact, one of the direction minds of those companies; Process Industrial Development Ltd and Process Industrial Development Nigeria Ltd, involved in the alleged fraudulent contract.
“It was also alleged that the 3rd defendant has foreign collaborators that are currently abroad, pursuing the enforcement of the foreign judgment debt of 9.6 billion dollars against Nigeria in United Kingdom,” Justice Abang held.
The judge noted that if the judgment was enforced on Nigeria, “the 3rd defendant would have no incentive, in my view, to remain in Nigeria.”
The judge, therefore, ruled that: “The defendant having failed to provide materials to enable the court vary the bail conditions, the application lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed.”
Justice Abang, then, adjourned till Dec. 10 for trial continuation.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Abang had, on Nov. 7, admitted Nolan to a bail in the sum of N500 million.
The judge, who granted the bail in an application filed by Nolan, ordered that the applicant must produce a surety in like sum, who must be a Nigerian and a serving senator not standing any criminal trial in any court in Nigeria.
Besides, he held that the proposed surety must submit a three years tax clearance certificate and sign an undertaking to always be present in court with the defendant throughout the duration of the trial.
“The senator must have a landed property fully developed in Maitama District of Abuja and fully certified by the FCDA.
”The surety must submit two passport photographs,” Abang had ruled.
Likewise, the court ordered the defendant to surrender all his international passports, even as it mandated the Nigerian Immigration Service to confirm how many passports that were issued to him within the past 20 years.
NAN reports that the EFCC had, on Oct. 21, arraigned Nolan and Adam Quinn (at large), both British nationals, over their alleged complicity in the 9.6 billion dollars judgment against Nigeria.
Process and Industrial Development (P&ID), an Irish engineering company, had secured the award against Nigeria following the non-execution of a 20-year gas and supply processing agreement (GSPA) the company had with the Federal Government.
The arraignment of the two British nationals is coming weeks after two P&ID directors were convicted over the deal.
The defendants, both directors of Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution and ICIL Limited, were arraigned on a 16-count charge bordering on alleged money laundering.