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$40m pipeline contract: Court orders EFCC to release Jonathan's cousin

Source: pointblanknews.com
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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

fundamental rights.
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

Section
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

said.
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

period.
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