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Money laundering: Atiku’s son-in-law, lawyer get N20m bail each

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The Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday granted bail to Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, lawyer to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Justice Nicholas Oweibo admitted him and his brother Erhunse to bail for N20million, with one surety each in like sum.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned them on Wednesday for allegedly laundering $2million.

The judge also granted Atiku’s son-in-law Abdullahi Babalele bail for N20million with one surety in like sum.

EFCC charged him for “laundering” $140,000 during the general elections.

The sureties, the judge said, must be Lagos residents and must swear to affidavits of means.

They are to submit two passport photographs each, and their addresses are to be verified, the judge said.

Justice Oweibo directed that their international passports, which are in EFCC’s custody, be “deposited” in court.

He ordered Babalele’s remand in EFCC’s custody until he meets his bail conditions.

But, he released the Giwa-Osagies to their counsel Ahmed Raji (SAN) and Norrison Quakers (SAN) and gave them 14 days to perfect their bail terms.

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The judge ruled after defence counsel moved their bail motions.

Babalele’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), urged the court to grant his client bail on self-cognisance.

He said the defendant, who he described as “a decent Nigerian”, did not run away when EFCC granted him administrative bail, adding that he reported at the commission when asked to.

“He will not jump bail or abscond from justice. He will not interfere with witnesses or obstruct the course of justice,” Ozekhome said.

Raji, who spoke on Quakers’ behalf, said the alleged offence was bail-able.

“A party who voluntarily submits to an investigating agency should not be denied bail,” he said.

He urged the court to grant Uyiekpen bail on self-cognisance, having practised law for over 30 years.

Prosecuting counsel, Umar Buhari, opposed the bail applications.

He said the defendants could interfere with witnesses having seen the “overwhelming” evidence against them.

Ruling, the judge held that EFCC’s allegations in its counter-affidavit were not substantiated.

“No material was provided in support of those allegations,” he said.

EFCC, in the two-count charge against Babalele, said he “procured” Bashir Mohammed on February 20 to make cash payment of $140,000 without going through a financial institution.

It added that Babalele “aided” Mohammed to make cash payment of $140,000 “without going through financial institution”.

According to the prosecution, the sum exceeded the amount authorised by law to be transacted in cash.

The alleged offence is contrary to Section 18(a) and (c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b).

In a separate charge, EFCC accused Giwa-Osagie and his brother of “making cash payment of $2million without going through financial institution”.

It said the sum exceeded the amount authorised by law to be transacted in cash.

The defendants pleaded not guilty.

Justice Oweibo adjourned until October 8 for trial.

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