Bode-George’s Bail Application Suffers Setback

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The hope of leaving the Kirikiri maximum prison by the convicted former board chairman of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Captain Bode George (rtd) and five other members of the board last Friday may have suffered a setback after spending four days in prison as their bail application hearing was adjourned till November 9, 2009.
George and five co-convicts filed the bail application before the court urging the judge to grant them bail, pending the hearing of their appeal.
Part of the grounds cited by George for the bail application are that he is hypertensive, has arthritis, and that his appeal, which might take more than two and a half years, might be prejudiced.
The other five convicts are also asking for bail on several circumstances bordering mostly on their health.
Justice Olubumi Oyewole of a Lagos High Court had last Monday sentenced George and five others to 2 ½ years in prisonment over their role in contract splitting and disobedience to lawful order.
The others sentenced alongside George included former Managing Director of NPA, Architect Aminu Dabo, Captain O. Abidoye, Alhaji Aminu Tafida, Alhaji Zanna Maidariba and Engr. Sule Aliyu.
Oyewole had found George and his co-convicts guilty and sentenced them to six months jail term for disobedience to lawful order of constituted authority contained in circular No. F15775 dated June, 27, 2001 which pegged the contract approval limit of the board to N20 million.
The six former board members of the NPA were also sentenced to two years improvement each for abuse of office.
They were also found guilty of deliberately rejecting the directives of the circular and that they acted in manner that poses threat to the activities of the nation’s ports and its entire economy which is not in the best interest of Nigeria.
According to Justice Oyewole, all the accused persons in their evidence acknowledged receiving the said order from the ministry of transport but chose by their own volition to disregard the order.
He, however, held them not liable for contract inflation. During the trial which lasted for 15 month, one of the major prosecution witnesses, Engr Mustaphar Bukar, a director in the Federal Ministry of Transportation, who chaired a 7-man administrative panel instituted by the Federal Government to probe the activities of the NPA, said his panel discovered that about 29,526 contracts were awarded by the management of the NPA between year 2001 to 2003.
In his evidence, the witness said that some of the contracts were split and inflated before they were awarded to different contractors by the NPA management.
However, the witness, admitted under cross examination by counsel to the defendants that there was no evidence indicating that the contracts awarded were given out or signed by the Board of the NPA led by Chief Bode George.