By Ise-Oluwa Ige & Ikechukwu Nnochiri
An Abuja Magistrate’s Court sitting in Kado, Life Camp, will Friday decide on whether or not to grant a request by the Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate in Osun State in the 2007 general election, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform this yearâ€™s lesser hajj.
The court fixed today for ruling after taking arguments from the police which are prosecuting Aregbesola and the accused.
Aregbesola is standing trial for alleged criminal offence of forgery and using forged documents as genuine in law court.
He had pleaded with Magistrate Kabir Lamido to grant his request on compassionate ground.
In the application filed and argued by his counsel, Mr. Kunle Adegoke, the governorship candidate informed the court that his travelling papers including accommodation, to and from flight tickets had been procured long before police arrested and arraigned him for the criminal offence.
Although his trial had been scheduled to commence on September 8, Aregbesola urged the court to grant him the option of commencing the trial on September 4, or grant him adjournment till October 2, when he would have returned to the country from the holy pilgrimage.
Accommodation receipts and flight tickets receipts from the Emirate Airline obtained before his arrest and arraignment for the criminal offence were put at the disposal of the Court for verification.
The Politicians told the Court of his intention to embark on the holy pilgrimage on September 6, and begged the Court to grant him the permission since the Constitution presumes that he is innocent of the charge until proved otherwise.
He also argued that he has the right to his religion under the law and urged the Court to protect the right for him by granting his application adding that he was willing and desirous to stand the trial after the hajj exercise .
However the prosecution led by Boniface Asogwa objected to the motion on the ground that a fresh charge has been planned against Aregbesola on September 8.
He said that the fresh charge would accommodate Aregbesola and his co-accused Yinka Okedara who are standing trial for the same offence.
The prosecutor reminded the Court of threat by Okedara to apply to Court that the criminal charge against him be struck out in case of any failure on the side of Police to commence trial on September 8, adding that absence of Aregbesola in Court on the date may jeopardise the trial.
Although the threat was withdrawn by Kunle Adegoke on behalf of Okedara Magistrate Kabir lamido fixed ruling on the application for today.