Court Remands Jonathan’s Cousin In Efcc Custody Despite Another Court Order
BEVERLY HILLS, April 22, (THEWILL) – A Lagos Magistrate Court, sitting in Ikeja, on Friday ordered that Robert Azibaola, a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan, be remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in contrast to a ruling by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) granting him bail.
Chief magistrate B.O Osunsanmi ruled that Azibaola be remanded pending the completion of investigation into an alleged diversion of $40 million dollars through One-Plus Holdings, a sister company of Kakatar Construction Limited, which was for securing oil pipelines.
The payment was said to have been made by the detained former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Aziboala, who has been in EFCC custody since 23rd of March 2016, has challenged his detention by the commission and approached a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights.
In a motion ex-parte, dated and filed on April 5, 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) praying the court to grant him 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.
Justice Goodluck Olasunbor of the Federal Capital Territory held that Robert's detention by the EFCC for over two weeks was unconstitutional that the applicant had disclosed sufficient evidence before the court to warrant the granting of his reliefs.
Relying on the exact provision 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 reasonable time.
The judge then admitted him to bail pending his arraignment before a court of law or pending the determination of the substantive motion on notice in this suit.
However, he added that 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.
A new twist however transpired as Robert was moved from Abuja to Lagos by the EFCC only to be taken to the Lagos Magistrate court, Ikeja asking for an order for his detention which was granted.
Robert’s counsel, Gboyega Oyewole described the action as unfortunate saying the disregard of a court order by the EFCC is an affront to his client and the constitution.
“It is unlawful and and the commission should be called to order,” he said.
“Robert ought to be enjoying the bail granted him by the FCT high court. EFCC did not disclose this to the Lagos magistrate court, Justice Osunsanmmi. The EFCC had tried to extend the remand order from the magistrate court in the Federal capital but had met a brick in the light of the subsisting order by Justice Olasumbo of the Abuja high court releasing him on bail.
Another counsel to Azibaola, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) said: “This is scandalous to say the least. It is a sad irony that a Commission that claims that nobody is above the law is portraying itself as being above the law.
“What they did in Lagos is forum shopping and an abuse of court process. They knew that such impunity will not work in Abuja, the reason they went to Lagos to continue the illegal detention of my client using the guise of fresh charges against him.
“This is an unfortunate attempt to undermine the positive order of the court and overreach the order to release my client on bail. We shall take all necessary steps to ensure that this impunity does not stand.”
The matter before the Lagos magistrate court was adjourned to 23rd May. Robert was however remanded at the EFCC custody.