Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the remand of Abdullahi Babalele, the son-in-law of Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned him for allegedly laundering $140,000 during the general elections.
The commission also arraigned Abubakar’s lawyer, Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, and his brother, Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, on a separate charge of laundering $2 million.
Both were also remanded pending bail.
The 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.
Prosecuting Counsel Rotimi Oyedepo said the sum exceeded the amount authorized by law to be transacted in cash.
EFCC added that Babalele “aided” Mohammed to make cash payment of $140,000 “without going through financial institution”.
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).
EFCC accused Giwa-Osagie and his brother of “making cash payment of $2 million without going through financial institution”.
It said the sum exceeded the amount authorised by law to be transacted in cash.
The three-count charge reads: “That you Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie and Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, sometimes in February 2019 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired to commit an offence to wit: making cash payment of the sum of $2,000,000.00 (two million United State Dollars) without going through financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a), and 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2) (b) of the same Act.
“That you Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, on or before the 12th day of February 2019 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, procured Erhunse Giwa-Osagie to make cash payment of the sum of $2,000,000.00 without going through financial institution.
“That you Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, sometimes in February 2019 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, made the payment of the sum of $2,000,000.00 without going through a financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty.
Oyedepo urged urge the court to remand them in prison custody in view of their plea.
Defence counsel, including Mike Ozhekome (SAN), Ahmed Raji (SAN) and Norrison Quakers (SAN), said they filed bail applications.
Ozekhome said: “My learned colleague informed me that he needs to react.
“The defendant has been in EFCC custody since August 8.
“Therefore, I plead with my lord to remand the defendant in EFCC custody pending the hearing of his bail application.”
But Oyedepo urged the court to remand the defendants in prison custody, which he said is the appropriate place to remand those who have been arraigned.
Besides, he said EFCC’s detention facility was overstretched.
He said: “The defendant has been arraigned and discrimination should not be seen in the treatment of citizens.
“If my lordship, after arraignment, sends unknown citizens to prison, I see no reason why this should be different.
”Also, our facilities are overstretched already and the Nigerian Prison Service is empowered to deal with such cases.”
Raji and Quakers, for the Giwa-Osagies, informed the court about their pending bail motion filed and served on August 9.
Raji said: “Oyedepo informed me that he couldn’t get hold of the application until today (yesterday) and has promised to file tomorrow (today).
“We would also be pleading that Your Lordship allows the defendants to remain in EFCC custody pending the hearing of bail application.”
Justice Oweibo ordered the defendants’ remand in EFCC’s custody.
He fixed their bail application hearing for Thursday.