Chief Magistrate Folashade Botoku of an Ebute Metta Chief Magistrate’s Court, Lagos, yesterday admitted the Managing Director of Lekki Gardens, Mr. Richard Nyong and one of the contractors that supervised the collapsed five-storey building, Mr. Taiwo Odofin to bail.
The court also ordered the duo to deposit their international passports, not to travel abroad and report to the police between the hours of 8am and 5pm every working day pending the determination of their matter.
Nyong and Odofin were arrested shortly after a five-storey building under construction on Kushenla Road, Ikate Elegushi area of the state collapsed and killed no fewer than 34 persons. The building had crumbled around 4 am with several persons trapped in the rubble, forcing the state government to seal the building.
The duo had earlier been remanded in prison custody by the Magistrate following an ex-parte application brought before the court by the Officer-in-Charge of Legal Department of Police, CSP Thomas Eno-Edobor.
According to the court, their remand was to allow the police conclude its investigation and file proper charges against them.
But ruling on the two separate bail applications filed by the applicants on Friday, Chief Magistrate Botoku found merits on the applications, saying it was within the jurisdiction of the court to admit the defendants to bail
Botoku held that there was nothing to show from the prosecution that the defendants would not attain trial or interfere in police investigation.
The court also ruled that it had jurisdiction to entertain the bail application, adding that bail was at the discretion of the court, which should take cognisance of the ability of the applicant to attend trial and the criminal records of the applicants.
The Chief Magistrate however dismissed the applicants’ applications seeking to set aside the remand order, saying the order was legal, and in accordance to the law since the police had the constitutional rights to invite and investigate any allegations without prior knowledge of the person.
In admitting the applicants to bail, the court noted that Nyong was a law-abiding citizen without criminal antecedents.
“He is also a managing director of a firm, with about 8,000 employees, who is ready to attend trial and his disposition to an affidavit that he will not interfere with investigation has not been controverted or challenged by the prosecution.
The most important consideration in admittance to bail, the court noted is the attendance of trial, of which the prosecution has no evidence to contradict,” the court added.
Further hearing on the matter has been adjourned till April 12.
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