A federal high court in Abuja has struck out the bail application by Alex Badeh, former chief of defence staff, who is currently in custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
James Tsoho, a judge, held that since there was a subsisting remand order, which has not been set aside by a magistrate court in Lagos, he would not give an order for the release of the applicant.
He explained that Badeh only filed an application for bail, and not an application to set aside the order of the magistrate court which the anti-graft agency procured to keep him in custody. Badeh has been in the custody of the EFCC since February 8 for his alleged role in the $2.1bn arms scandal.
Last Monday, Tsoho reserved March 4 to rule on a bail application filed by Badeh. Tsoho, reserved the date after counsel to parties made submissions for and against the motion. “I have heard the arguments of parties made in favour and against this application.
The court has reserved March 4 to deliver its ruling,’’ he had said. Samuel Zibiri, counsel to Badeh, brought the application pursuant to sections 35 (4) and 36 (5) of the 1999 constitution. Zibiri also hinged the application on sections 158, 162 and 165 (2) of the administration of the criminal justice act.
The applicant’s counsel had sought the order of the court to admit Badeh to bail on self-recognition or on liberal terms pending his arraignment by the anti-graft agency. He argued that the application was based on the ground that the applicant had voluntarily honoured the invitation of the EFCC on February 8.
Zibiri also submitted that the applicant had been detained for more than the period required by the constitution without trial. He also argued that the allegation for which the applicant was being held was bailable, contending that the applicant would not jump bail or escape justice when admitted to bail.
On whether the court had the jurisdiction to entertain the application in view of the fact that the applicant was now being held in Lagos, Zibiri answered in the affirmative. “My Lord, there is no question about whether the court has jurisdiction or not. The federal high court is one and the EFCC is equally one,” he said.
“The applicant was originally invited and interrogated in the Abuja office of the commission but was later moved to Lagos for further interrogation. “Just as the court in Lagos admitted him on bail with stringent measures few days ago, the EFCC approach a magistrate court for detention warrant.”
However, Cosmos Ugwu, counsel to the EFCC, opposed the application, saying the commission should be allowed to complete its investigation. Ugwu argued that the applicant’s current detention in Lagos was not related to the earlier issues that led to his invitation and subsequent detention in Abuja.
Badeh was to be arraigned before Okon Abang, a justice of the federal high court, Abuja, on Thursday, but the case was shifted to March 7 owing to the absence of the judge. The former defence chief is facing a 10-count charge of criminal breach of trust and corruption to the tune N3.9bn.