Attempt by the former Managing Director of the defunct Finbank Plc, Mr. Okey Nwosu, to secure a temporary relief from the judgment of an Ikeja High Court that found him guilty of stealing over N18 billion from the bank has hit the rock as the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, dismissed his request for bail pending appeal.
The appellate court held that Nwosu’s bail application is unmeritorious and dismissed it accordingly. In his lead ruling, Justice Abdullahi Mahmud Bayero, held that there was no credible evidence given by an expert in the field of medicine relating to alleged ill health of the appellant (Okey Nwosu).
Two other members of the panel, Justice Fatima Omoro Akinbami (presiding) and Justice Frederick Oziakpono Oho also consented to the ruling. Justice Lateefat Okunnu of the Lagos High Court in Ikeja had on January 5, 2021, in Charge No. ID/115°/2011 convicted and sentenced Nwosu to three years imprisonment.
Convicted alongside Nwosu were three former directors of the defunct bank: Mr. Dayo Famoroti, Mr. Danjuma Ocholi and Mr. Agnes Ebubedike. They were arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 26-count charge of stealing and illegal conversion. Dissatisfied, Nwosu approached the appellate court for an order admitting him to bail pending the determination of his appeal filed against the judgment.
In his Motion on Notice brought pursuant to Order 17 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2009, supported by 16 Paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Kate Nwosu, which stated that Nwosu is greatly ill and in urgent need of medical treatment and attention. The deponent added that Nwosu had long time been suffering from various ailments and hypertension, which his medical doctors have been managing over the years to help him live a normal life.
The deponent claimed that Nwosu is suffering from hypertensive, heart disease, cervical spondylosis with radiculopathy, borderline type 2 diabetes mellitus and meniere’s disease. She added that the state of health of the applicant needed urgent medical attention and treatment, adding that his health has greatly deteriorated since he was sentenced to jail at the Nigerian Correctional Service, Ikoyi.
The deponent stated that the Nigerian Correctional Service, Ikoyi, lacked the medical facilities to handle his peculiar health needs.
However, in his lead judgment, Justice Bayero held that bail should not be granted to a convicted person pending appeal as a matter of course adding that the applicant must show exceptional circumstances why it should be granted.
Justice Bayero said: “The principle of presumption of innocence no longer exists, because of his conviction, he must show special circumstances to be entitled to bail pending the determination of his appeal.
“In the instant appeal one of the special circumstances relied on by the applicant is that of bad health. The medical report annexed to the supporting affidavit states that the applicant is being managed by the Police Hospital Falomo, Ikoyi, Lagos, but the report does not show that the health status of the applicant is life-threatening as claimed by his counsel.
“The medical report further stated that the applicant is on certain medications with regular reviews with the cardiologist and undergoes daily physiotherapy sessions. This goes to show that the medical needs of the applicant are being met.’’
Bayero further observed that the prison authorities in Ikoyi where the Nwosu is serving his term of imprisonment have not issued any report that his medical condition could not be monitored or handled in prison. He held that only where the state cannot provide for the medical need of the applicant that the court may exercise its discretion to grant bail.
‘’In this case, there is no credible evidence given by an expert in the field of medicine relating to the alleged ill health of the applicant. The appellant’s application for bail is unmeritorious same is hereby refused. It is accordingly dismissed,” Justice Bayero held.