Politics

$40m Pipeline Contract: Court orders EFCC to release Jonathan’s cousin

$40m Pipeline Contract: Court orders EFCC to release Jonathan’s cousin

The Managing Director of Kakatar CE Limited, Robert Azibaola, described as former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, was Thursday, granted bail by Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has detained Azibaola since March 23 in connection with the $40 million pipelines contract, believed to have been diverted by One-Plus, a sister company of Kakatar.

Justice Goodluck granted him bail while ruling on an ex parte motion brought before her by Mr Chris Uche, SAN, for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of his client.

In her ruling, Justice Goodluck said Azibaola’s detention by the EFCC for over two weeks was unconstitutional, adding 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 ( April 7) 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 Fundamental 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.

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“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 directed that the applicant’s bail shall be with two sureties, each of who shall be a serving or retired Director in any of the Federal Government ministries or parastatal and resident within the FCT. The applicant was also directed to deposit his international passport with the registrar of the court.

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