By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, gave the embattled former Governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, permission to travel abroad for medical check-up.
In a ruling he delivered yesterday, Justice Adamu Bello, granted the ex-Governor who is currently before him over a 6-count criminal charge bothering on alleged theft of N6.5billion from the Bayelsa state treasury, 28-days to visit his Doctor in South Africa, warning that he should return on or before January 15, 2014, to face a fresh charge that was brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Besides, the court, directed Sylva to produce a surety that would sign undertaking to stand trial in his stead, should he fail to return to Nigeria to answer to the amended 42-count charge preferred against him before Justice R.A Mohammed of the same high court.
In the new charge, the EFCC accused the former governor and six others, of pilfering the sum of N19.2billion from the public tilt.
Before ordering the release of the international passport of the accused ex-Governor, Justice Bello, dismissed an objection that was raised by the EFCC, saying he was minded to exercise his discretion in favour of the accused, based on prevailing circumstances.
He said: “On June 20, 2012, the accused person applied for leave to travel abroad but it was not granted due to prevailing circumstances.
“Similar application made by the accused person on May15, 2013 but filed on the 16th was refused by this court due to prevailing circumstance.
“It is against this backdrop that I have decided to give the application attention thereby granting the accused necessary leave to travel to South Africa on medical grounds.”
The judge noted that since Sylva will be docked by the EFCC with regards to the fresh charge against him on January 23, he would have completed his medical check-up and returned to the country before then.
“This means that there is ample time for the accused person to embark on a medical trip to South Africa. The atmosphere is conducive and the court, hereby make an order that he should be allowed to travel for 28 days running from December 7, 2013.”