Bloated wage bill: Court remands 13 senior Bayelsa civil servants in police custody
From FEMI FOLARANMI, Yenagoa
Friday, May 11, 2012
A Yenagoa High Court on Wednesday ordered 13 senior civil servants arrested in connection with the bloated wage bill in Bayelsa State to be remanded in Police custody, pending the determination of their bail applications.
Governor Henry Seriake Dickson had recently, after reading the preliminary investigations into the matter ordered security agencies to liaise with the office of the Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice to commence their prosecution.
Out of the 25 people arrested, 12 have been released on bail, while 13 others, including the acting Chairman, Mr Otoro Theodore Wonimidei appeared in court.
Before their appearance in Court, civil society groups led by the Bayelsa Citizen Vanguard had carpeted the state government over the continued detention of the civil servants 21 days after they were arrested and were not charged to court.
The coordinator Ebikabiola Torubeni, had expressed shock that suspects could be illegally detained in an administration in which Dickson is the Governor.
According to investigations, their appearance in court was to dismiss insinuations making rounds that the state government was deliberately blocking moves to grant them bail.
At the court, the 13 suspects who were looking worried pleaded not guilty to the allegations.
The court adjourned the case to Tuesday for the determination of the bail application of the suspects and they were immediately whisked by security agencies back to Police custody. Sources close to the family of the suspects expressed optimism that they would be granted bail on Tuesday, to demonstrate the respect for rule of law of the present administration.
Meanwhile the second phase of the verification exercise which is on-going has sent jitters down the spine of more senior civil servants, who now are afraid of arrest and arraignment in court. The civil servants fear has heightened with the resolve of the Dickson administration not to back down from conducting a verification exercise. Checks indicated that, unlike in previous exercises, where government finds it difficult to prosecute those fingered in the bloated wage bill the Dickson administration has ensure their prosecution see the light of the day.