Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court, Lagos has granted bail in the sum of N20 million to Abdullahi Babalele, the son-in-law of the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate in 2019, Atiku Abubakar.
In separate charge, the Court also granted bail to Atiku’s lawyer, Mr Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, and his brother, Erhunse, in the sum of N20million each with one surety in like sum.
The judge granted bail to the trio on Thursday after hearing their separate bail applications filed by their counsel.
While delivering the ruling on the bail application after hearing arguments from both defendants and the prosecution counsel, the judge held: , “bail is granted in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum, the surety must be resident within the jurisdiction of this honourable court and have property within the jurisdiction of the court with passport photograph and address of the surety verified.
“The defendant’s passport shall be submitted to this court and pending fulfilment of bail terms, the defendant is remanded in EFCC custody.”
The Court further held that In the meantime, the defendants would be released to their counsel pending the perfection of their bail terms which must be done with 14 days.
The judge, thereafter, fixed October 8 for trial in both cases.
Before the granting of the bail, Atiku’s son in law’s counsel, Chief Mike Ozhekome while arguing told the court that his client “has been a faithful and decent Nigerian who believes that the ACJA and constituted authorities should be respected.
“He is not the kind of person that will jump bail and abscond from justice. If he didn’t do that with EFCC, why will he now dare now that he is before a court of law?
“This is a matter of discretion, one that should be exercised judiciously. Discussing whether he is guilty or not is premature at this stage but if you look at the proof of evidence filed by the EFCC, my client has said he paid N50 million to Bashir Mohammed to send to the Obasanjo Library for intellectual development and that he never handled dollars.
“If Bashir Mohammed in his wisdom changed it to dollars it means the wrong person is in the dock. The transaction my client did was a bank transfer. It does not lie with the prosecution to say they are still investigating. It is assumed that you have finished your investigation the moment you charge an accused to court.”
In response, Usman Buhari, representing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), told the court that bail is not the right of the defendant but at the discretion of the court.
He said the defendant “has not placed any evidence before the court to warrant the court exercising its discretion, therefore the application of the defendant should be rejected”.
Mr Babalele was docked on Wednesday before the court on a 2 count charge of alleged money laundering. He pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge.
According to the charge Babalele committed the offence in February, 2019.
Also, Osagie-Giwa, said to be Atiku’s lawyer and his brother, Erhunse Giwa-Osagie were arraigned for allegedly laundering $2m, in connection with the polls.
The Osagie’s brothers were alleged to have on February 12, 2019, aided each other and made cash payment of $2 million USD, without going through the financial institutions.
The offences, according to the prosecution, are contrary to Sections 18(c), 18(a), 1(a), 16(1), (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16, 16(2)(b)16(2)(b) of the same Act. They however, also pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred him by EFCC.