The Economic and Financial crime Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday arraigned three persons close to the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, before a Federal High Court in Lagos with various charges bothering on fraud and money laundering.
The first to be arraigned was Mr Abdullahi Babalele, Atiku’s son in law, Mr Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, a lawyer, and his brother, Mr Erhunse Giwa-Osagie.
The three were all remanded in EFCC custody pending the hearing of their bail application.
Counsel to EFCC Rotimi Oyedepo had informed the court of the two count charge pressed against Babalele borders on money laundering and conspiracy to the tune of $140,000.
Babalele however denied the allegations by pleaded not guilty to the charge. Oyedepo thereafter urge the court to remand the defendant in prison custody in view of his non guilty plea.
Babalele’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozhekome SAN informed the court that he had filed an application for bail on the 9th of August and had notified the prosecuting counsel. “My learned colleague informed me that he needs to react. The defendant has been in EFCC custody since last week Thursday 8th of August, therefore I plead with my lord to remand the defendant in EFCC custody pending the hearing of his bail application”.
In opposing the application Oyedepo urged the court to remand the defendant in prison custody which is the statutory place after arraignment in court. He said that EFCC detention facility is overstretched and they can no longer accommodate the defendant.
“The learned SAN when we discussed I told him his request for his client to remain with us is not in my power. The defendant has been arraigned and discrimination should not be seen in the treatment of citizens. If my lordship, after arraignment, send unknown citizens to prison detention, I see no reason why this should be different. ”
“Also, our facilities are overstretched already and the Nigerian Prison Service is empowered to deal with such cases ”
But Ozhekome pleaded with the court that keeping his client in EFCC custody after arraignment pending hearing of his bail application was not a matter of discrimination but a case of looking at the peculiarities of each case.
Justice Oweibo however remand the defendant in EFCC custody and adjourned further proceeding till tomorrow Thursday 15th of August for the hearing of bail application.
Babalele is facing a two count charge of money laundering to the tune of $140,000, an offence which was committed in February, 2019.
Mr Babalele had been arrested by the EFCC in February on the suspicion of laundering money the EFCC said it suspected was for votes buying and had placed him on administrative bail while investigations continued. He was rearrested on the 9th of August prior to his arraignment today.
The offences are said to be contrary to Section 18(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
In the case of the Giwa- Osagie brothers, the charges stated that they were arraigned on money laundering charges to the tune of $2million.
The two defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them by EFCC.
Oyedepo urged the court to remand the defendant in the prison custody pending trial.
Counsel to Osagie Mr Ahmed Raji SAN informed the court about the motion seeking to admit defendants to bail filed and served on the 9th of August. ”
Justice Oweibo after listening to both counsels adjourned the case to August 15 at 12 noon for the hearing of bail and ordered that Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie and his brother Erhunse Giwa-Osagie be remanded in EFCC custody pending the bail application.
“Oyedepo informed me that he couldn’t get hold of the application until today and has promised to file tomorrow. We would also be pleading that you allow the defendant to remain in EFCC custody pending the hearing of bail tomorrow. ”
The defendants are facing a three count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of $2 million, a charge they pleaded not guilty to. An offence said to be contrary to Section 18(a), and 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
Mr Giwa-Osagie was arrested by the anti-graft commission on the February 19, on suspicion of money laundering and was subsequently granted administrative bail. He was however rearrested on the 9th of August prior to his arraignment today