The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday arraigned human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, before a Federal High Court in Lagos over alleged lease of a property attached by a court’s order.
The accused is charged on one count bordering on a lease of a Lagos property, which is subject of a court order of attachment.
When the case was called, prosecuting counsel, Mr. Idris Abdullahi informed the court of an amended charge dated May 12.
He said that the earlier charge dated and filed on May 5, had been replaced with the amended charge dated and filed on May 12, and prayed the court to substitute same.
He told the court that the charge had been duly served on the accused, and prayed the court for the amended charge to be read over to the accused for his plea to be taken.
Presiding judge, Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo in a short ruling, struck out the charge dated May 5, and replaced it with the amended charge No FHC/L/CS/181C/2016.
Human rights lawyer, Adegboruwa, was then arraigned on the amended charge, and he pleaded not guilty.
After his arraignment, prosecuting counsel prayed the court for a trial date, and urged it to remand the accused in prison custody.
Meanwhile, counsel to the accused, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN) informed the court of a bail application filed on behalf of the accused.
He moved the application and urged the court to grant the accused bail on self recognition.
Etiaba added that the accused was reputed for his relentless service to the poor and downtrodden of the society.
Etiaba prayed; “My lord, this application is brought pursuant to the provisions of sections 158 and 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 as well as sections 35 of the 1999 Constitution.
“I urge my lord to consider the submissions of counsel in determining whether the accused is entitled to bail.
“The black’s law dictionary defines entitlement as an absolute right to a benefit, and so, the grant of bail is an entitlement to a legal right.
“I submit my lord, that section 162 (d) will not mitigate against our litigation; investigations in this matter has been concluded and so, there is no fear of interference.
“The accused is a man who fights for the downtrodden; he is a parish pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church, Lekki branch, and by his calling, he ministers every, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and sometimes Saturday.
“He runs a robust legal firm in Lekki, and I know as a matter of fact that about 50 percent of the cases in his law firm are probono (free) for the indigent poor.
“I pray my lord to grant the accused bail on self recognition”
Ruling on the bail application, Justice Oguntoyinbo held:
“I have considered the facts before this court from learned counsel to the accused.
“I have also considered section 162 of the ACJA and i agree that bail cannot be used to punish an accused for an offence he has not been tried.
“I am however, reluctant to grant the bail in the manner the applicant has applied.
“The accused is hereby granted bail in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in like sum.
“The sureties must put down their phone numbers with the court”
She adjourned the case to June 13, 14 and 15 for trial, and ordered the accused to be remanded at the EFCC custody until the bail terms are perfected.
The judge also warned the prosecution to pursue its case diligently.
In the one count charge, the accused was alleged to have conspired with one Jonathan Udeagbala (now at large) to lease out a property located at No 105 NICON Town Estate Lekki, Lagos.
The property was said to be the subject of an interim order of attachment issued by Justice C.A Balogun of a Lagos High Court, on June 18, 2012
The said property was said to have been leased to one Shelf Drilling Nig. Ltd for over N61 million without the consent of the EFCC.
The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of Section 32(1) of the EFCC Act, 2004.