The Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned till Wednesday ruling on the bail application for Azibaola Roberts and his wife, Stella. The Roberts, cousins to former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, are standing trial on a seven-count charge bordering on money laundering of about 40 million U.S. dollars.
The money was allegedly paid into their company account, One Plus Holdings Nigeria Limited, by the Office of the National Security Adviser. The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges. Roberts was arraigned in court on Tuesday having spent about 80 days in custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). While arguing bail for Roberts, his lawyer, Mr Chris Uche (SAN), acknowledged that bail was at the discretion of the court but urged the judge to admit his client to bail on liberal terms.
Uche argued that the offences for which Roberts was charged were not capital offences and were, therefore, bailable. “Plea having been fully taken by the defendants, we will like to prepare for trial; I therefore, wish to apply for bail of the first defendant.
“We have filed a motion on notice dated May 24, 2016 and filed on May 27. “This bail application is brought pursuant to Section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution and Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015. Uche prayed the court to admit his client to bail in view of the pains he had suffered in the custody of the EFCC in spite of a valid court order admitting him to bail.
“We went to court and an Abuja High Court granted him bail in the sum of N10 million, but the order was flagrantly disobeyed by the respondent (EFCC). “When these orders were disobeyed, we wrote to the respondent, but they still refused to obey the orders. “Roberts was whisked away to Lagos by EFCC operatives, where he collapsed. “The fact is that his rights, as a citizen, have been breached.
“The right to bail for a man who is presumed innocent until proven guilty is a constitutional rights and the offences are not capital offences,’’ Uche said. Mr Gordy Uche, Counsel to Mrs Roberts, also prayed the court to grant his client bail, adding that she had been on administrative bail by the EFCC and had not breached the bail conditions.
The Prosecuting Counsel, Aliyu Yusuf, however, opposed the bail application on the grounds that the offences, for which the defendants were being tried, were serious. Yusuf urged the court to refuse the bail applications and instead order accelerated hearing of the case.
The trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, adjourned ruling on the bail application till Wednesday. Dimgba also ordered that Roberts be remanded in Kuje Prison and admitted Mrs Roberts to administrative bail earlier granted by the EFCC.