Abdullahi Babalele, the son-in-law to the Nigeria’s former vice president and presidential candidate of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku’s Abubakar, was yesterday re-arraigned before the Federal High Court, Lagos, on two counts charge of money laundering.
He was re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Babalele’s re-arraignment was sequel to re-assigning the case to Justice Aneke.
Babalele had earlier been arraigned before Justice Nicholas Oweibo on August 14, during the court’s annual vacation.
At the resumed hearing of the charge against Babalele, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that his agency has two- counts against the defendant.
Oyedepo told the court that though the plea of the defendant had earlier been taken when he was first arraigned before Oweibo, during the court’s long vacation.
He, however, stated that it is a law that when the case file is reassigned to another judge, the plea of such defendant must be retaken.
He, therefore, urged the court to let the charge be read to the defendants for their plea to be retaken.
Oyedepo stated that he would not oppose any application for the defendant to continue the bail granted him earlier.
However, Babalele’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), argued that since the plea of the his client had earlier be taken, the court should discountenance prosecution’s plea and hear his client’s pending application for bail variation.
The judge, however, acceded to prosecutor’s request and ordered that the defendant plea be taken.
After taking of defendant’s plea, Ozekhome moved 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.
Ozekhome told the court that the application dated and filed on September 3, was supported with 15 paragraphs affidavit deposed to by one Ubong Ukong.
Ozekhome also informed the court that the application has four different documents attached with it and marked as Ab1, Ab2, Ab3 and Ab4, which were medical reports from Samiya Hospital, National hospital, all in Abuja and from Michael Warren, from a London hospital.
He urged the court to grant the application and release his client’s passport to enable him travel abroad to medical treatment.
Responding, Oyedepo, urged the court to discountenance Babalele’s application as there was nothing before the court to grant the request.
In urging the court to discountenance the application, Oyedepo told the court that there was no invitation as the one purportedly issued by a so- called Doctor Michael Warren was dated September 12, which he said had passed and “there is no appointment to be kept.”
Oyedepo also stated that all the documents tendered by the defendant did not suggest that the defendant could not be treated in Nigerian hospitals.
He stated that none of the documents stated that the defendant has history of trauma, diabetic, hypertension, asthma and distress.
Oyedepo, therefore, urged the court to refuse the application and order for accelerating hearing of the charge.
Aneke adjourned the matter till October 11, for ruling on the application.
Similarly, further hearing of the money laundering charges filed against Atiku’s lawyer, Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, and his brother, Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, was adjourned till October 15.
Uyiekpen, a partner in African Law Practice (ALP), and his brother Erhunse, were earlier arraigned on August 14, before Oweibo over alleged money laundering of $2million.
The Giwa-Osagie brothers were arraigned on three counts charge of conspiracy, aiding and abating and money laundering of the said.