Our Reporter, Abuja
The presidential ambition of the former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, may be back on track as a federal high court sitting in Abuja presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo admitted him to bail.
However, his possible appearance before the APC presidential screening committee headed by Chief Odigie Oyegun on Tuesday depends on how fast he can meet his bail conditions.
In granting him bail, the court ruled that he was, however, to remain in custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) until he perfects the conditions attached to his bail.
Justice Inyang Ekwo made the order, Tuesday, after admitting the ex- governor to bail in the sum of N500m and one surety in the like sum.
Equally admitted to bail by Justice Inyang Ekwo is his co-accused, Anyim Nyerere, who was cited in the 17-count money laundering charge.
In the case of Nyerere, the court ordered that he should continue on the administrative bail granted him by EFCC for exhibiting good conduct while on bail.
The court ordered that Okorocha’s surety must have a property in Abuja not below N500m and the original title documents of the property must be deposited with the court registrar.
It further ordered that the original title document must be taken to Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS) for verification.
Thereafter, the registrar will swear to an affidavit on the report of his findings.
In addition, Senator Okorocha’s travelling documents must be deposited with the court registrar and that he must not travel out of the country without the permission of the court.
That Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), must be alerted in writing by the court registrar that the Passport of the former governor is in the custody of the court and should not be allowed to travel out of the country without an order of court.
Justice Ekwo held that although bail was at the discretion of the court, however, that circumstances and conduct of the first defendant (Okorocha) would not make the court to admit him to customary bail conditions.
In the case of the 2nd defendant, the court observed that since he did not tamper or jump his administrative bail given to him by the EFCC, he should remain on the same.
Justice Ekwo finally ordered that Okorocha should remain in the custody of the EFCC until the bail conditions were met.
Meanwhile the court has adjourned trial to November 6,7,8,9,10 and 11.
Okorocha who was arraigned on Monday pleaded not guilty to the 17-count charges preferred against him and six others by the EFCC.
The ex-governor, who is the Senator representing Imo West, had initially declared his intention to contest for presidency in the 2023 general elections.
He was however arrested by operatives of the agency, few hours before his political party, the ruling APC screened its presidential candidates, the first time before the screening was postponed to Monday, May 30.
His arrest was predicated on his alleged refusal to make himself available for trial, as the prosecution agency accused him of deliberately evading service of the charge on him.
Senator Okorocha was arraigned alongside a chieftain of the APC, Nyerere, and five companies- Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited.
The anti-graft agency had in the charge, alleged that the defendants sequentially siphoned funds from the Imo State Government House account and Imo State Joint Local Government Project account, and diverted same into accounts of private firms.