$40m Pipeline Contract: FCT Court Grants Bail to Jonathan’s Cousin

law-justice-courtA Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court in Abuja on Thursday granted bail to Azibaola Robert, said to be a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on March 23, 2016 arrested Robert over alleged diversion of $40 million through One-Plus Holdings, a sister company of Kakatar Construction and Engineering Company Limited.
The anti-graft agency said the money, which was paid by embattled former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), was meant for securing oil pipelines.
In a ruling on an ex parte application brought pursuant to fundamental rights (enforcement procedure) rules by the accused’s lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN), Justice Olasumbo Goodluck, said Robert’s detention by the EFCC for over two weeks was unconstitutional.
The judge was of the view that the applicant disclosed sufficient evidence before the court to warrant the granting of his relief.
Citing the provisions of Section 35(5) of the Constitution, the judge held that the detention of the applicant for 15 days as at yesterday, was 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 Enforcement 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 to the powers of this court to allow an interlocutory respite to the applicant is 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”, Justice Goodluck said.
The judge, however, ordered that the applicant’s bail shall be with two sureties, each of which shall be a serving or retired Director in any of the Federal Government ministries or parastatal and must be resident within the FCT.
She also ordered the applicant to deposit his international passport with the court’s Chief Registrar.