Justice Ohimai Ovbiagele of a Benin High Court, Criminal Division, has granted five members of Edo Welders Association N500, 000 bail each.
The defendants are Isaac Ogundumi, the former president of the association; Monday Ewemade, the former General Secretary of the association; and John Odalo, the association’s former provost.
Others are Andrew Egharewan, the former Adviser of the association and Omorogbe Jacob, the former vice president of the association.
Ovbiagele also ordered the defendants to produce a surety each in like sum.
The judge ordered that the sureties must be gainfully employed, reside within Benin metropolis and must depose to an affidavit of means as part of the bail condition.
Ovbiagele adjourned the case to October 27 for hearing.
The defendants, all former executives of the Edo Welders Association between 2002 and 2016 before the dissolution of the executive this year, are facing alleged N15 million fraud charges.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had on October 9, arraigned the defendants before Justice Ovbiagele for allegedly stealing by conversion the association money.
They all pleaded not guilty to the 15-count charge, while the judge ordered their remand in Oko Prisons and adjourned the case until October 11 for hearing of the bail application.
On October 11, the defendants were not brought to court, but their counsel, Mr. Uyi Okungbowa, urged the court to grant them bail, and argued that they were charged on matters bordering on criminal offences.
Okungbowa pleaded with the court to use its discretion to grant the defendants bail.
He submitted that the charge was a bailable offence, and argued that granting the defendants bail would not in any way jeopardise the trial of the defendants.
But EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Moses Arumemi, however, opposed the bail application and said the offences, committed between January to December 2016 contravened Sections 383(1)(a), 465,and 468 of the Criminal Code, CAP 4 8, Laws of Bendel State of Nigeria, as applicable to Edo State.
Arumeni said the 15-count charge bothers on conspiracy, stealing by conversion, and forgery.