$40m pipeline contract: Court orders EFCC to release Jonathan's cousin
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Thursday ordered the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to immediately release the
cousin of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Azibaola Robert.
The EFCC had on March 23, arrested Robert over alleged diversion $40
million through One-Plus Holdings, a sister company of Kakatar
Construction and Engineering Company Limited, meant for securing oil
pipelines. The payment was said to have been made by the detained former
National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Frustrated by his prolonged detention, Robert through his lawyer Chief
Chris Uche (SAN), approached the court for the enforcement of his
In a motion ex-parte dated and filed on April 5 and brought pursuant to
Order 5 Rules 3 and 4 of the fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure)
Rules 2009, Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Uche (SAN)
prayed the court to make “an order granting his client an interim bail
pending his arraignment before a court of law by the respondent (EFCC) or
pending the determination of the substantive motion in this suit.”
The senior lawyer had submitted that the court was clothed with
jurisdiction to grant the applicant bail having regard to Order 4 Rule 3
and 4 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Rules of 2009 as well as
168 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 and Section
35 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In the suit marked: FCT/CV/1370/2016, Uche drew the court's attention to
the physical, mental and psychological torture his client had been
subjected to in an underground cell of the EFCC since March 23 when he was
arrested, and urged the court to grant his client's request.
Delivering a ruling on the application yesterday, the trial judge, Justice
Goodluck Olasunbor held that Robert's detention by the EFCC for over two
weeks was unconstitutional.
Justice Olasunbor said that the applicant had disclosed sufficient
evidence before the court to warrant the granting of his relief.
Relying on the extant provisions of the constitution, the judge averred
that under section 35 (5) of the said provision, the constitution provides
that a person who is under arrest or detention shall be brought before a
court of law within a reasonable time.
Section 35 subsection 5, 1 defines reasonable time as follows:
“In the case of an arrest or detention in any case where there is a
court of competent jurisdiction within the radius of 40 kilometres
within (a) period of one day and (b) in any other case a period of two
days or such longer period as in the circumstance may be considered by the
court to be reasonable.”
Justice Olasunbor held: “flowing from the above provisions, and applying
the intentions of the authors of our revered constitution in the instant
scenario, the detention of the applicant for a duration of 15 days as at
today (Thursday, April 7), is far in excess of the constitutionally
provided time for detaining a citizen without his arrest or arraignment in
a law court.
“This court has carefully examined Order 4 Rule 3 and 4 of the Fundamental
Rights Fundamental Procedure Rules 2009, there it empowers the court to
entertain an ex-parte application for the prevention of life or liberty of
a Nigerian Citizen where exceptional hardship may be occasioned before the
service of the motion on notice.
“Applying the foregoing provisions as a litmus test to the facts and
circumstances of this case, I am of the view and so hold that this
ex-parte application is competent and contemplated by the laws of our
land. The applicant by this application disclosed that he has been in
detention since 23 March, 2016 in an underground cell. This in this
court's view amounts to a deprivation of his movement and his freedom
contrary to the time frame stipulated in the 1999 constitution. I am of
the view that the applicant has disclosed exceptional reason why this
application should be granted. More importantly, order 4 rule 4(1) of the
fundamental rights enforcement procedural rules of 2009 empowers this
court to grant bail or order the release of the applicant forthwith from
detention pending the determination of the motion on notice.
“Similarly, lending credence the powers of this court to allow an
interlocutory respite to the applicant in Section 168 of the ACJA 2015,
which provides that “a judge of a High Court may direct that (a) bail
conditions required by a magistrate court or police officer be reviewed be
it a defendant in custody in a state of FCT be admitted to bail.
“My summation from a community reading of the foregoing statutes, the
court is empowered to grant bail or order the release of the applicant
pending the determination of the motion on notice. In the light of the
foregoing considerations, this court will be exercising its powers
judiciously and judicially by allowing this application.
“Accordingly, this application succeeds. The applicant is hereby admitted
to bail pending his arraignment before a court of law or pending the
determination of the substantive motion on notice in this suit,” the judge
She, however said the applicant's bail shall be with two sureties. Each
surety shall be a serving or retired Director in any of the federal
government ministries or parastatal and must be resident within the
federal capital territory. The applicant shall deposit his international
passport to the Chief Registrar of this Court.
In the same vein, the court ordered the EFCC to release Robert's colleague
and Executive Director of Kakatar Construction and Engineering Company
Limited, Mr. Dakoru Atukpa who had also been in detention for the same
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