John Abebe, a businessman and brother of former First Lady, Stella Obasanjo, has been granted bail by the Lagos State Special Offences Court, Ikeja, on Thursday.
Abebe, who is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, claimed that he “knowingly forged” a November 30, 1995 letter written by BP Exploration Nigeria Limited to Inducon (Nigeria) Ltd.
Following an application by his lawyer, Kanu Agabi, SAN, who served as Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice during ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, Abebe was admitted to bail by Justice Mojisola Dada.
Agabi, who appeared in court on Thursday alongside three other Senior Advocates of Nigeria, had pleaded with the judge to grant Abebe bail on liberal terms.
The former AGF told the court that the businessman had no record of crime, adding that a man of his caliber would not jump bail.
After hearing the lawyer out, Justice Dada granted Abebe bail with a surety who must be gainfully employed and own a landed property in a choice area in Lagos.
The judge said Abebe must deposit his passport in the custody of the court pending the conclusion of the case.
After the court proceedings on Thursday, Abebe, who had been in the prison custody since July 26, 2018, joined his family members.
The anti-graft agency claimed that the businessman illegally inserted into page 2 of the said letter the following words: “Also note that the ‘Buy-Out Option’ only applies to the pre-production stage of the NPIA. The $4m buy-out is thus irrelevant from production of oil in any of our fields.”
According to the EFCC, Abebe also attempted to pervert the course of justice by tendering the allegedly forged November 30, 1995 letter “as a fabricated evidence” in court, in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/224/2010 between Dr. John Abebe, Inducon Nigeria Limited and Statoil Nigeria Limited.
The EFCC accused him of making an attempt to mislead the court by using fabricated evidence, contrary to Section 120 (2) of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.
The EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that by attempting to pervert the course of justice, Abebe violated Section 126 (2) of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.
The prosecutor added that forgery was a violation of Section 467 of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.
But when the charges were read to the businessman on Thursday, he pleaded not guilty.