A former Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, was on Thursday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Minna on charges of money laundering.
The ex-governor was arraigned alongside a former Commissioner of Environment, Umar Nasko, on an eight-count charge of criminal conspiracy and money laundering.
Mr. Nasko was the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship candidate in the 2015 elections and lost to the incumbent governor, who was the candidate of Nigeria’s ruling APC. Mr. Aliyu is also a member of the PDP.
The offences are contrary to section 18(a) of the money laundering Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15(3) of same Act.
The two are accused of laundering ecological funds of over N1.940 billion released by the federal government to the state in 2014.
NAN reports that the case was transferred from the Federal High Court Abuja to the Minna division at the instance of the defendants.
When the charges were read to the defendants, they both pleaded not guilty.
The EFCC prosecutor, Ben Ikani, thereafter prayed the court to remand the accused persons in prison and adjourn the matter for commencement of hearing.
Mr. Ikani urged the court to refuse the accused persons bail given the seriousness of their offence and the magnitude of the punishment.
The counsel to the first and second defendants, Olajide Ayodele and Mamman Osuman, however, prayed the court to use its discretion to admit their clients to bail.
They both argued that if granted bail, the accused persons will provide reasonable sureties to stand for them.
In her ruling, the presiding judge, Yellim Bogoro, admitted the defendants to bail in the sum of N250 million each and two sureties, one of whom must be a civil servant not less than the level of a director.
Mr. Bogoro also ordered them to surrender their international passport to the court registry.
She gave them 48 hours to fulfil their bail conditions and adjourned the matter until January 22, 2018 for hearing.