The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been ordered to release Mr. Azibaola Robert, a cousin of former President Goodluck Jonathan, by an Abuja High Court.
The order for Robert’s immediate release was obtained on Thursday, April 7, 2016 from a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja.
Robert, a lawyer, was arrested by the EFCC on March 17, 2016 in what close family members say is a desperate partisan attempt to implicate the immediate past president of Nigeria in graft.
Justice Olasunbo Goodluk ruled on an ex parte application filed by Azibaola Robert’s lawyer, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), held that the applicant’s detention by the EFCC for over two weeks without being charged to court was unconstitutional.
The judge further ruled that the bail granted the applicant was to subsist pending his arraignment by EFCC before any court or the hearing of his substantive suit.
The judge ruled that the bail should be guaranteed by two sureties and each of the sureties must be a serving or retired Director in any of the Federal Government’s ministries or parastatal resident within Abuja. The applicant is also required to deposit his passport to the Chief Registrar of this court.
Robert, who is the managing director and Kakatar Engineering Limited was arrested along with his wife and executive director when they honoured an invitation by the EFCC which is acting on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari. Since his arrest, Roberts has been kept in solitary confinement and denied access to his lawyer and family.
Buhari’s One Year Diversionary Tactic
According to another source, Azibaola Robert’s arrest is a frantic exercise in the renewed efforts by the EFCC to arrest former President Goodluck Jonathan on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Last month, a presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina revealed plans by the Buhari-led presidency to implicate former President Jonathan in the on-going corruption campaign by the government. He said on Channels TV that Buhari will “not spare” Jonathan in the fight against corruption.
Following that media statement by Buhari’s spokesman, the EFCC has applied a renewed vigour in its hunt for anything that would implicate the ex-president.
“Robert’s arrest is one more step in an unproductive hunt for investigation into alleged financial irregularities linked to the former National Security Adviser,” our source told our reporter.
“The EFCC has been rounding up relatives of former President Jonathan and anybody who had dealings with him. They are illegally freezing accounts of these people, even salary accounts and their spouses accounts, even accounts that don’t hold any significant amounts of money.
“The are trying all they can to create a case against Jonathan in order to implicate him. The Metuh angle failed, they had to manufacture a story of an eaten statement to save face.
“Sources tell us that the EFCC has been ordered by Buhari to arrest Jonathan before his one year in office in May. But that they must create ‘strong’ evidence against the former president to prevent the international and domestic backlash that such a move would bring to the Nigerian government.
“So the EFCC is frantically using illegal tactics to break associates of the former president with a view of causing them to give a statement against Jonathan.
“Arresting Barrister Azibaola Robert is just one attempt to victimise close associates and kinsmen of Jonathan. He is the latest victim of this desperate witchhunt by the EFCC. He is Jonathan’s nephew and believed to be his closest confidant,” our source who pleaded anonymity revealed. Our family source says that Roberts is a cousin of the president but regarded as a nephew due to their close relationship.
On February 9, 2016, operatives of Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Security Services (DSS) raided the Maitama residence of His Majesty, King Turner another kinsman of the former president and carted away some documents, including insignificant amount of dollars, pound sterling, naira and rupees. Although the DSS is yet to disclose why the raid happened while the first-class king was away in Yenagoa in Bayelsa State, observers believe that the raid was connected with the monarch’s closeness with former President Goodluck Jonathan as is the case of Robert.
Additional reports by Ephraim Adiele