The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned Abdullahi Babalele, son-in-law of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, before a Federal High Court, Lagos State, for alleged money laundering.
He was re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on a two-count charge following the re-assigning of the case after he was arraigned before Justice Nicholas Oweibo on August 14, 2019, during the court’s annual vacation.
During the vacation, Atiku’s lawyer, Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, was also arraigned alongside his younger brother, Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, on a two-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of $2 million.
When the matter against Babalele was called yesterday, the EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the court that his agency had a two-count charge against the defendant.
According to Oyedepo, though the defendant’s plea had been taken when he was brought before Justice Oweibo during the court’s vacation, it is the law that when the case file is re-assigned to another judge, the plea of such defendant must be re-taken.
Praying the court to let the charge be read to the defendant for his plea to be re-taken, he promised not to oppose any application for the defendant to continue the bail granted him earlier.
In his response, Babalele’s counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), told the court that since the plea of his client had earlier been taken, the court should discountenance the prosecution’s plea and hear his client’s pending application for bail variation.
Justice Aneke, however, granted the prosecution’s request and ordered that the defendant’s plea be taken.
After the defendant’s ‘not guilty’ plea, Ozekhome argued his application for bail variation. He told the court that granting the application would enable his client to travel abroad for medical treatment of a life-threatening sickness.
The senior advocate added that the application dated on September 3 was supported with a 15-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Ubong Ukong.
He further told the court that the application had four annexures marked Ab1, Ab2, Ab3, and Ab4; the medical reports from Samiya Hospital, National Hospital (all in Abuja) and Michael Warren of a London hospital.
Ozekhome submitted that all the annexures point to great danger if the man did not go for treatment.
But Oyedepo urged the court to discountenance Babalele’s application, as there was nothing before the court to support the request.
He said there was no invitation, as the one purportedly issued by Michael Warren was dated September 12, 2019, which he said had passed and “there is no appointment to be kept.”
Further hearing of the case against Atiku’s lawyer and his brother was adjourned until October 15, The Guardian reports.