Court Orders Release of Jonathan’s Cousin

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Thursday 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, which was for security 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 FCT High 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 was clothed with 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 Section 168 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 and Section 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.

Delivering a ruling on the application yesterday, the trial judge, Justice Goodluck Olasunbor held that Robert’s detention by the EFCC for over two weeks was unconstitutional.

Justice Olasunbor said 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.”