Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, the Lagos State capital, has granted bail to the Chairman of Inducon Nigeria Limited, Dr. John Abebe.
The judge had remanded Abebe in Ikoyi Prison on July 26, following his arraignment over allegation of forgery preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Abebe, who is a younger brother to the late former First Lady, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, was arraigned before Justice Dada on a four-count charge of forgery, fabricating evidence and attempt to pervert the course of justice.
The defendant however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The EFCC accused Abebe of knowingly forging a letter on June 22, 2010 dated November 30, 1995 and belonging to BP Exploration Nigeria Limited to that of his company, Inducon Nigeria Limited.
The commission said the defendant forged the alleged letter by inserting on page 2, the following words: “Also note that the ‘Buy-Out Option’ only applies to the pre-production stage of the NPIA. The $4 million buy-out is thus irrelevant from production of Oil in any of our fields,” and purported same to have been issued by BP Exploration Nigeria Limited.
The EFCC also accused Abebe of attempting to “pervert the course of justice” by tendering the allegedly forged November 30, 1995 letter “as a fabricated evidence” in court, in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/224/2010 between Dr. John Abebe, Inducon Nigeria Limited and Statoil Nigeria Limited. Abebe was further accused of attempting to “mislead the court” by using fabricated evidence, contrary to Section 120 (2) of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.
The EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that by attempting to pervert the course of justice, Abebe violated Section 126 (2) of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.
Oyedepo added that forgery was a violation of Section 467 of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.
Moving Abebe’s bail application yesterday, former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), who led other three Senior Advocates, Dr. Uche Nwobike, Mr. Wale Akoni and Mr. Babajide Koku, argued that the defendant would not jump bail going by his calibre of person. He prayed the judge to grant his client bail on self recognisance.
The former AGF also argued that bail is at the discretion of the court and formalty as many lawyers have considered it to be. He urged the court to grant his client affordable bail.
Responding, EFCC counsel, Babatunde Sonouki, argued that every citizen of Nigeria is equal before the law, adding that nobody is high or low profile before the law and that there are serious allegations against the applicant.
Ruling on the bail application, the judge admitted Abebe to bail on liberal terms with one surety who must be gainfully employed and own properties in choice areas of Lagos State.
Justice Dada also ordered the defendant to submit his international passport, which is presently in the custody of EFCC, with the registrar of the court.