By Akinwale Akintunde
A Lagos Magistrate Court sitting in Ikeja yesterday, remanded Robert Azibaola, a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pending the completion of investigations of an alleged diversion of $40 million through One-Plus Holdings, a sister company of Kakatar Construction Limited which was for securing oil pipelines.
Chief Magistrate B..O Osunsanmi gave the order that Aziboala should be remanded in EFCC custody as requested by the anti-graft agency.
According to EFCC, the payment for which Azibaola was being investigated was said to have been made by the detained former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Aziboala had recently approached the High Court of Federal Capital Territory to challenge his unlawful detention by the EFCC since March 23, 2016.
In the 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), Aziboala had prayed 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 High Court of the Federal Capital Territory held that Robert’s detention by the EFCC for over two weeks was unconstitutional.
The judge in his ruling said the applicant (Robert) had disclosed sufficient evidence before the court to warrant the granting of his reliefs.
According to Justice Olasunbor, Section 35 (5) of the Constitution provides that a person who is under arrest or detention shall be brought before a court of law within reasonable time.
He therefore admitted Aziboala to bail with two sureties pending his arraignment before a court of law or pending the determination of the substantive motion on notice in this suit.
The judge ordered that each of the surety must be a serving or retired Director in any of the federal government ministries or parastatal and must be resident within the federal capital territory.
He also ordered that the applicant should deposit his international passport to the Chief Registrar of this Court.
Justice Olasunbor further 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.
There was however a new twist as Aziboala 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.
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.
Gboyega Oyewole, another counsel to Aziboala, noted that the unfortunate disregard of an order of court by the EFCC is an affront to his clients and the Constitution.
“It is unlawful and the commission should be called to order. Robert ought to be enjoying the bail granted him by the FCT High Court. EFCC did not disclose this to the Lagos Magistrate Court. 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 Olasumbor of the Abuja High Court releasing him on bail”.