A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed September 9 to rule on whether to grant bail to a Nigerian, Isiaka Musa and two Guineans, Traore Djakouba (Yakubu) and Mohammed Berete.
They are being charged with conspiracy and attempting to smuggle large quantities of elephant tusks, pangolin scales and claws out of the country.
After listening to the arguments of the prosecuting and defence counsel on Wednesday, Justice Tijjani Ringim fixed the date for the ruling.
The court took arguments on whether the counter affidavit submitted by the Prosecuting agency, the Nigerian Customs Service was competent as a result of the failure to affix the NBA stamp of the prosecuting counsel on the court documents.
Ruling on the issue, Justice Ringim agreed with the legal adviser to the Nigerian Customs Service, Smart Akande, that shutting out the prosecution on this basis will amount to a technicality that will infringe on the agency’s fundamental rights.
Subsequently, the counsel on both sides took turns to argue the bail application.
The prosecutor, Smart Akande, in opposing bail submitted that there is compelling evidence to link the accused persons to the crime. He also argued that two of them are foreigners who may jump bail if granted.
He stressed that the only known address for the foreigners was the place of arrest in the Ajah area of Lagos which had been sealed up by officers of the Nigerian Customs Service and there was no known record of any other place where they can reside, a situation which makes the possibility of jumping bail higher.
In the likelihood that the court was minded granting bail, the prosecutor asked the court to impose stringent conditions which would guarantee their attendance at trial.
In countering the arguments, the defence counsel, Olayinka Lawal told the court that the defendants would not jump bail. He described as speculative the concerns that they would do so.
Lawal also drew the courts attention to the fact that the defendants had relatives and friends in the country, some of whom had deposed to affidavits attached to their bail applications.
He urged the court to exercise its discretion in their favour and grant bail which he said they were constitutionally entitled to enjoy.
After listening to the arguments, Justice Ringim adjourned till the 9th of September for his ruling.