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Alleged Money Laundering: How Lawyer From ‘Africa Law Practice', Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, Younger Brother Laundered $2 million Without Going Through Any Financial Institution - EFCC

  • ATIKU ABUBAKAR 
    As Commission Re-Arraigns Atiku's Son-In-Law, Abdullahi Babalele

BY FRANCIS IWUCHUKWU

IKOYI, LAGOS STATE, NIGERIA - The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday re-arraigned Abdullahi Babalele, the son-in-Law to the former vice President of Nigeria, and Presidential Candidate of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku's Abubakar, on a two count charge of money laundering.

Abdullahi Babalele was re-arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, presided over by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke.

Abdullahi Babalele's re-arraignment came consequent upon the re-assignment of the matter from Justice Nichols Oweibo of the same court who had presided over the case while the long vacation lasted.

Equally arraigned during the long vacation is Atiku's lawyer, Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, a partner in the law firm of  ‘Africa Law Practice'.

Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, was arraigned alongside his younger brother, Erhunse on two counts charge that had to do with money laundering to the tune of $2 million.

At the resumed hearing of the charge against Atiku's son-in-law, Abdullahi Babalele, lawyer to the anti-graft agency, Rotimi Oyedepo informed Justice Aneke that the EFCC has a two counts charge against the defendant.

Rotimi Oyedepo explained that though, the plea of the defendant had been taken by the former trial judge while the long vacation lasted, it is the law that when the case file has been reassigned to another judge, the plea of such defendant must be retaking.

Rotimi Oyedepo consequently prayed Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke to let the charge be read to the defendant for his plea to be retaking. 

Rotimi Oyedepo further hinted that he would not be opposing any application for the defendant to continue the bail granted him earlier.

In responding, counsel to Abdullahi Babalele and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Ozekhome, insisted that since the plea of his client had earlier be taken, the court should discountenance the plea of the prosecution and hear his client's pending application for bail variation.

In his position, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke agreed with Rotimi Oyedepo and directed that the defendant plea be taken.

Shortly after taking his (Abdullahi Babalele) plea, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) in moving the application for bail variation told the court that granting the application will enable his client to travel abroad for medical treatment of a life threatening sickness.

Mike Ozekhome (SAN) further notified Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke that the application dated and filed on September 3, was supported by a 15- paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Ubong Ukong.

Mike Ozekhome (SAN) also hinted Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke that the application has four annexures and are marked as Ab1, Ab2, Ab3 and Ab4, which were medical reports from Samiya Hospital, National hospital, all in Abuja and from one Michael Warren from a London hospital.

Mike Ozekhome (SAN) added that his client's case is 'life threatened'.

Mike Ozekhome (SAN) therefore prayed Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke to grant the application and release his client's passport to enable him to travel abroad for medical treatment.

In his response, Rotimi Oyedepo, asked Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke to discountenance Abdullahi Babalele's application as there was nothing before the court to visibly accede the request.

In urging the court to discountenance the application, Rotimi Oyedepo told Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke that there is no any 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".

Rotimi Oyedepo therefore urged Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke to refuse the application and order for accelerating hearing of the charge.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke has adjourned the matter until October 11, 2019 for ruling on the application.

Meanwhile, further hearing of the money laundering charges filed against Atiku's lawyer, Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie and the brother to the lawyer, Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, has been adjourned till October 15, 2019.

Uyiekpen, a partner in African Law Practice (ALP) and his brother Erhunse were earlier arraigned on August 14, before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, for allegedly Laundered $2 million USD.

The Giwa-Osagie brothers were arraigned on three counts charge of conspiracy, aiding and abetting and  money laundering of the said amount.

They had pleaded not guilty and admitted to bail in various terms, while the matter was adjourned till Tuesday (today) for trial by Justice Oweibo.
   
Charge against the Atiku's In-Law in charge number FHC/L/284c/19, reads:

Count One:  "That you Abdullahi Babalele on or about the 20th day of February, 2019, in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, procured Bashir Mohammed to make cash payment of the sum of $140,000. 00 (One Hundred and Forty Thousand United State Dollars) without going through financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorized by Law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act. 

Count 2: "That you Abdullahi Babalele on or about the 20th day of February, 2019 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, aided Bashir Mohammed to make cash payment of the sum of $140,000. 00 (One Hundred and Forty Thousand United State Dollars) without going through financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorized by Law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act. 

While charges against the Osagie's brothers in charge number FHC/L/283c/19, reads: 

Count One: "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 authorized 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.

Count two: "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 (Two Million United State Dollars) without going through financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorized by Law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

Count 3: "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 (Two Million United State Dollars) without going through financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorized by Law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Sections 1(a). & 16(1).(d) of the Money Laundering(Prohibition) Act, 2011 (As Amended) and Punishable under section 16 of the Same Act."

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