Lagos – Justice Iniekenimi N. Oweibo of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Thursday, granted bail to Abdullahi Babalele, a son-in-law to former vice president and the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar, in the sum of N20 million.
Babalele was arraigned on Wednesday on a two-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of $140, 000.
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The defendant allegedly persuaded one Bashir Mohammed to make a cash payment of the sum of $140,000 without going through any financial institution, an offence contrary to section 18(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2100 as amended and punishable under section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to him.
During the proceedings on Thursday, Babalele’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), told the court that his client had filed an application for bail and served same on the prosecution.
However, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, in his response, told the court that he was served with the application Wednesday morning and that he would need time to respond to it.
Consequently, Justice Oweibo, after listening to both parties, adjourned to Thursday for hearing of the bail application.
During Thursday’s proceedings, counsel to the defendant, Mike Ozekhome, filed a motion for bail on behalf his client, seeking the order of the court to grant his client bail on self-recognition.
Ozekhome also argued that the prosecution ought not to have opposed the bail application because the defendant was granted an administrative bail by the EFCC, after his arrest and detention in the EFCC custody.
Ozekhome further told the court that the defendant had never jumped the administrative bail granted him by the EFCC since March, 2019, adding that the defendant would be willing to stand his trial.
The defence counsel, therefore, urged the court to grant his client bail and also prayed the court to release his client to him while perfecting his bail conditions “in the circumstance that he is granted bail.” In his response, the prosecution counsel, Usman Buhari, filed a counter-affidavit to the application, urging the court not to grant the defendant bail.
Buhari stated that there were obvious tendencies that the defendant would interfere with the prosecution witnesses, adding that some of the prosecution witnesses had worked under the defendant. Buhari, therefore, urged the court not to grant the defendant bail in the “interest of justice and to allow the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.”
He also told the court that the law does not allow the release of a defendant to his or her lawyer in any circumstance.
In his ruling, Justice Oweibo granted the defendant bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum.
The surety must be resident in Lagos and must be a property owner in Lagos. The property as well as the address of the surety must be verified by the court.
The judge who further directed that the defendant’s passport must be deposited with the court’s Registrar, remanded Babalele in the EFCC custody pending the perfection of his bail conditions.
Also, during Thursday’s sitting, Justice Oweibo granted both Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, a lawyer to Atiku, and his son, Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, bail in the sum of N20 million each.
Both defendants were also arraigned on Wednesday on a three-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of $2,000,000.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them by the commission.
Counsel to the first defendant, Ahmed Raji (SAN), as well as counsel to the second defendant, Quarkers Norrison (SAN), filed applications for bail for their clients and also urged the court to grant them bail.
Ruling on the applications, Justice Oweibo granted bail to the defendants in the sum of N20 million each, with one surety in like sum. The sureties must be resident in Lagos and must be property owners in Lagos.
The properties and addresses of the sureties must be verified by the court, while the passports of the defendants must be deposited with the court’s Registrar.
The defendants were released to their counsel for 14 days, pending the perfection of their bail conditions.
Justice Oweibo also ordered the defendants to be remanded in prison, if they failed to perfect their bail conditions at the expiration of the 14 days.
The cases were adjourned to October 8, 2019 for commencement of trial.
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