An Abuja High Court has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to immediately release the cousin of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Azibaola Robert.
The EFCC had on March 23, arrested Robert over alleged diversion $40 million through One-Plus Holdings, a sister company of Kakatar Construction and Engineering Company Limited, meant for securing oil pipelines.
The payment was said to have been made by the detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Frustrated by his prolonged detention, Robert through his lawyer Chief Chris Uche (SAN), approached the court for the enforcement of his fundamental rights.
In a 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), Uche (SAN) prayed the court to make “an order granting his client 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.”
The senior lawyer had submitted that the court has jurisdiction to grant the applicant bail having regard to Order 4 Rule 3 and 4 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Rules of 2009 as well as Section168 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 andSection 35 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In the suit marked: FCT/CV/1370/2016, Uche drew the court’s attention to the physical, mental and psychological torture his client had been subjected to in an underground cell of the EFCC since March 23 when he was arrested, and urged the court to grant his client’s request.
His ruling, the trial judge, Justice Goodluck Olasunbor, held that Robert’s detention by the EFCC for over two weeks was unconstitutional, adding that the applicant had disclosed sufficient evidence before the court to warrant the granting of his relief.
Relying on the extant provisions of the constitution, the judge averred that under section 35 (5) of the said provision, the constitution provides that a person who is under arrest or detention shall be brought before a court of law within a reasonable time.
Section 35 subsection 5, 1 defines reasonable time as follows:
“In the case of an arrest or detention in any case where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within the radius of 40 kilometres within (a) period of one day and (b) in any other case a period of two days or such longer period as in the circumstance may be considered by the court to be reasonable.”
Justice Olasunbor held: “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.”
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.
“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,” the judge said.
She, however, said the applicant’s bail shall be with two sureties.
Each surety shall be a serving or retired Director in any of the Federal government ministries or parastatal and must be resident within the federal capital territory.
The applicant shall deposit his international passport to the Chief Registrar of this Court.
In the same vein, the court 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.


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