The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission on Tuesday arraigned the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mounir Gwarzo, and a commissioner, Zakwanu Garuba, for acts of corruption involving alleged mismanagement of over N115m. The ICPC accused Gawarzo of receiving between May and June 2015 the sum of N104,851,154.94 as severance benefit when he had yet to retire, resign or disengage from service and also the sum of N10,983,488.88 in excess of car grant” in the same period.
Garuba, an Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services of SEC, was accused of conferring a corrupt advantage on another public officer in the person of Gwarzo by approving the payments to the suspended SEC boss. They both pleaded not guilty to the five counts, three of which related to Gwarzo and the two others to Garuba, when the charges were read to them before Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja.
Shortly after the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, their lawyers moved their separate bail applications anchored on the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and filed on May 30. The defense lawyers, Mr. Abdulhakeem Mustapha, SAN, (for Gwarzo) and Mr. A. A Malik (for Gruba), urged the court to grant bail to their clients in the same terms and conditions as ICPC had done administratively prior to their Tuesday’s arraignment.
The ICPC, represented by its lawyer Mr. Henry Emore, confirmed the defense lawyers’ claim that the defendants had been faithful to the conditions of the administrative bail earlier granted them by the commission. After the defence lawyers briefly argued their clients’ separate applications on Tuesday, Justice Baba-Yusuf granted bail to each of them in the sum of N25m to be secured by a surety each. The judge who noted that under the ACJA which came into force in 2015, granting bail to a defendant especially when not opposed by the prosecution was sacrosanct.
He directed that the sureties to be produced by the defendants must not be less than a Deputy Director in any Federal Government establishment. The sureties must be resident and own landed properties in Abuja, the judge said, adding that they must also submit the title documents of the properties to the court’s registry. Ruling that the essence of bail was to ensure that the defendants appeared for their trial, the judge ordered them to deposit their passports with the court’s registry. They can formally apply for the passports whenever they have cause to travel abroad, the judge said. The court adjourned the case until June 28 and 29 for trial.