Detention of Jonathan’s cousin not illegal – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Friday) denied reports that Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of an FCT High Court accused it of illegally holding Robert Azibaola, a cousin of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Azibaola was arrested in March for allegedly receiving $40m for a dubious pipeline contract through a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki.

The was allegedly struck through One-Plus Holdings, a sister company of Kakatar Construction and Engineering Company Limited, meant for securing oil pipeline contracts.

A section of the media had reported that the FCT court knocked the EFCC for illegally detaining the suspect despite a court order instructing the commission to release him.

However, the EFCC in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said this was far from the truth.

The statement reads in part: “The attention of the EFCC has been drawn to a report entitled, ‘Judge faults EFCC over detention of Jonathan’s cousin’, which appeared in a number of newspapers on Friday May 27, 2016.

“The syndicated story tended to create the wrong notion that Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of the FCT High Court condemned the commission for allegedly violating the fundamental rights of Roberts Azibaola, a suspect that is under investigation for receiving $40m in a phantom contract from the Office of the National Security Adviser.

“This is further from what transpired in court on Wednesday May 25, 2016 when her lordship delivered ruling in the fundamental rights enforcement application of Azibaola.

“Contrary to the impression created by the jaundiced report, the court did not fault the detention of Azibaola by the EFCC as her lordship held that a remand warrant was validly obtained by the respondent in line with provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and consequently dismissed the application of Azibaola for lack of merit.

“The court merely frowned at the commission’s inability to produce the suspect in line with an earlier order of court on the ex-parte application of Azibaola for which counsel representing the EFCC apologised to her lordship.

“The commission had earlier filed a motion asking the court to set aside the ex-parte order on the grounds that it was obtained by false information, which the court rejected.

“It must be stated that the EFCC is a law abiding entity and could not have taken any action that would disregard the sanctity of the court.”

Uwujaren alleged that a section of the media had been compromised and was twisting the facts as the court never accused the anti-graft agency of illegally detaining Jonathan’s cousin.

“That said, it would be a great disservice to the integrity of the judiciary and, by extension the nation, for vested interests opposed to the anti-graft efforts of the commission to engage pliable section of the media to launch a campaign of misinformation against it by twisting proceedings of court to suit their benefactors.”