There was drama at the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan as families of former Central Bank of Nigeria workers who are standing trial stormed the court, demanding that the bail applications of the suspects be granted after about four years in prison.
The case once again came up before Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel on Monday, the accused – Patience Okoro, Afolabi Johnson, Sunday Ilori, Kolawole Babalola and Fatai Adedokun – were present in court.
The suspects were accused of converting old currency; which the CBN had earmarked for mutilation, into personal use in 2014.
As early as 7.30am, the former apex bank workers’ families started the protest in front of the court just before sitting commenced, displaying placards and urging the court to extend the same leniency granted other accused to their relatives also.
Among the inscriptions on the placard were ‘Three years in detention without bail is not fair,’ ‘You have taken all our property, please don’t let our fathers die in prison,’ and ‘You granted bail to others, please let our people go.’
The suspects’ families said that their relatives were not afraid of trial and that some of them were dying in prison without proper medical care.
Among them was 80-year-old Musili Olaniran, who is the mother of one of the accused, Muniru Olaniran.
She said, “Since he was arrested about four years ago, his family has been suffering. The children are always sick and I am dying. I beg the court to grant him bail so that he will not die in prison.”
Ramon, the brother of another suspect, Kolawole Babalola, said his brother was not against trial but needed good health to stand the trial.
He queried the rationale behind the court’s refusal to admit his brother to bail when a court granted a former National Security Advicer, Sambo Dasuki, bail.
“We are not asking that he should not be tried and if found culpable, given appropriate punishment. What we think is unfair is being denied bail after many of them had already been granted same.
“They have spent almost four years in prison for a bailable offence. If a court granted Dasuki bail, why is Ibadan court denying these people bail?.”
Olaniran’s wife, Alimat, said after seizing her husband bank account and the one belonging to her, the family had been left begging for food, adding that she had been begging for money to buy drugs for her husband in prison.