Naira abuse: Cubana Chief Priest gets N10m bail


By Kenneth Atavti

Social media celebrity Paschal Okechukwu aka Cubana Chief Priest has pleaded not guilty to the three count charge bordering on Naira abuse filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Cubana Chief Priest, who was dressed in a wine coloured senator buba and sokoto style, looked calm as he took his plea after the three count charge brought against him by the Commission was read to him.

Defence Counsel, Chikaosolo Ojukwu (SAN) informed the court that he filed two applications on behalf of his client.

Ojukwu told Justice Kehinde Ogundare that his client filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to try him.

Ojukwu also informed the court that he filed a bail application for the defendant and urged the court to grant his client bail in the most liberal terms.

Ojukwu, citing some sections of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), told the court that the defence has served the two applications on the prosecution.

He urged the court to allow him argue his application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the suit.

The prosecuting counsel of the EFCC Bilikisu Buhari who confirmed service of the two applications however opposed his submission and urged the court to allow the defendant to take his plea first.

Ojukwu said he had no objections to his client taking his plea when asked by the court.

“This is premature. I am just informing the court about the pending applications. If it is just to take his plea, it’s okay but most times, the court would take objections sometimes before plea.

“Our contention is for the preliminary objection to be taken first,” he said.

Thereafter, the three count charge was read and Okechukwu pleaded not guilty.

Citing section 396 of ACJA, Ojukwu argued that the offence for which his client was charged is a misdemeanor which carried 6 months imprisonment or N50, 000 fine or both.

He urged the court to exercise discretion in favour of the defendant.

He said the defendant has over 1,000 employees who are dependent on his small business.

Citing section 163 ACJA, he urged the court to grant him bail in liberal terms saying, “The defendant is not well. He has palpitation of the heart.”

The defence urged the court to release the defendant to him saying he has not flouted the administrative bail given to him.

“I would take him in my honour and perfect bail conditions in14 days,” he assured.

Justice Ogundare granted the defendant bail in the sum of N10 million with three sureties in like sum.

He said one of the sureties must be a civil servant not below grade level 16 in Federal or Lagos State Government service.

The judge said the other two must be gainfully employed and have property within the jurisdiction of the court and that the title documents of the properties must be verified by the deputy registrar of the court.

The trial Judge while handing over the defendant to his lawyer, Ojukwu ordered that the bail conditions must be fulfilled within seven days of failure of which the bail will be revoked.

Justice Ogundare adjourned till May 2 for trial and for the hearing of pending applications bordering on jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.