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Court grants Prof. Ndifon, lawyer N300m bail in sexual harassment case

Prof. Cyril Ndifon, former Dean of Faculty of Law, University of Calabar (UNICAL), undergoing trial for sexual harassment has been granted bail in the sum of N250 million with two sureties in the like sum.

 

Justice James Omotosho, of a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, in a ruling, also admitted Mr Sunny Anyanwu, a lawyer charged alongside Ndifon by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), to a N50 million bail with two sureties, making a total of N300 million for the duo.

Justice Omotosho, who said that the court was inclined to grant them bail in the interest of justice, held that the defendants had made out a prima facie case for the court to exercise its discretion in their favour.

Delivering his ruling on Ndifon’s bail application, Justice Omotosho admitted him to a N250 million bail with two sureties.

The judge held that the two sureties, who must be owners of landed property in the FCT with registered titles and a minimum valuation of N150 million, must submit their certified bank statements to the registrar of the court.

He also directed Ndifon to submit his international passport to the court registrar.

The judge ordered the suspended dean to sign an undertaking not to interfere with the case, be ready to stand his trial and not to the delay the trial.

Also ruling on Anyanwu’s bail plea, Justice Omotosho, who granted him a N50 million bail with two sureties, held that one of the sureties must have a property in FCT, but not with a registered title.

The judge directed the sureties to file their bank statements and ordered Anyanwu to equally sign an undertaking not to interfere with the trial, to be ready to stand his trial and not delay the trial.

Justice Omotosho also ordered an accelerated hearing of the matter.

He held that the court exercised the discretion in the defendants’ favour because of the nature of the offence and on health grounds.

According to him, bail is a constitutional right granted to a person and is at the discretion of the court.

“However, it must be exercised judicially and judiciously,” he said.

Citing a Supreme Court’s decision, the judge said, “in exercising such power, the court must be guided by the nature of the charge, the evidence supplied, the probability that the accused is ready to face his trial, the probability that the accused will not interfere with the trial,” etc.

Justice Omotosho, however, held that the law establishing the instant offences did not make them a capital offence.

He said the defendants averred that they were prepared for the trial and ready to provide sureties to take their bail, though the prosecution argued that the defendants might interfere with trial or had started interfering with its witness.

The judge held that deciding whether the accused would interfere with the witnesses or not would be likened to drawing a conclusion in the trial, even more so that one of the counts is in charge.

Recall, Ndifon was on Jan. 25, re-arraigned alongside Anyanwu as 1st and 2nd defendants on an amended four-count charge bordering on alleged sexual harassment and attempt to perverse the cause of justice.

Anyanwu, who is one of the lawyers in the defence, was joined in the amended charge filed on Jan. 22 by the ICPC on the allegation that he called one of the prosecution witnesses on her mobile telephone during the pendency of the charge against Ndifon to threaten her.

The court had, in previous proceedings, denied the duo bail, on the ground that the witness, identified as TKJ (not real name) by the court, who was alleged to have been called on the phone, must be allowed to give her evidence before their bail hearing.

TKJ, a female Diploma student in UNICAL, concluded her testimony on Wednesday after she was cross-examined by the defence lawyer, Joe Agi, SAN.

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