Adebiyi Adedapo in Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has detained human rights lawyer, Azibaola Roberts for an alleged complicity in a multi-million dollar oil pipeline security contract.
Azibaola, who is a close ally of former President Goodluck Jonathan, was March 23 arrested for allegedly diverting public funds through his company, One-plus Holdings, its sister company, Kakatar Construction and Engineering Company Limited.
One-plus Holdings was paid $40million by the detained former National Security Adviser (NSA) Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) for oil pipelines security contract.
Counsel to Azibaola, Gordy Uche (SAN), accused the anti-graft commission of vendetta, noting that his client is being persecuted because of his DNA as a cousin to the former president.
The lawyer noted that a contract matter between the federal government and a corporate organisation is a civil matter and ought to be treated as one.
“If the NSA has a civil complaint against our client for ‘breach of contract’ and wants refunds of monies, the best thing to do is to file a civil complaint and allow an impartial judge to determine the case on merit,” he said.
EFCC spokesperson, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, while reacting to the allegations, disclosed that the anti-graft commission had secured a court order to detain the suspect until investigations are concluded.
He explained that the suspect was granted an administrative bail within the first two days of his arrest, but refused to meet the condition.
“We have a court order to detain him, he was at first granted administrative bail, but he didn’t fufill the condition, so the commission approached the court for an order to detain him, until the investigations are concluded,” Uwujaren said.
According to the Uche, his client, Azibaola, is still being owed the sum of $4 million by the federal government, as the contract was successfully executed and the government had achieved its goals.
“My client is being persecuted and punished because of his DNA, as a relative of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) was shirking its responsibility for the outstanding payment of $4 million due to our client as honorarium for an assignment which his client helped the federal government execute and for which the government reaped immensely billions in dollars in return. The federal government is still owing our client $4million being balance of the contract sum for successfully securing oil pipelines which saw Nigeria reap billions of US dollars from increased oil production.
“My clients are innocent until proven guilty, according to the laws of Nigeria. So, their continuous detention is a breach of their fundamental human rights as free citizens of Nigeria. The appropriate thing for the EFCC to do in this circumstance is to release them now or charge them to court,” Uche declared.