Lagos – A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday refused an application for overseas travel by a Peoples
Democratic Party’s chieftain, Olarenwaju Otti, for medial attention.
Otti, who is standing trial on a N650 million fraud charge, is being prosecuted alongside a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide, and Sen. Ayo Adeseun, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
They all pleaded not guilty and were granted bails.
At the last adjournment, Counsel to the third accused (Otti), Mr Akinola Oladeji, had brought an application before the court, seeking a variation of the bail granted the accused and asked the court to release her international passport to enable her travel overseas on medical grounds.
Oladeji had argued that the accused had to undergo a surgery to remove two cysts in her body, adding that same could not be performed in Nigeria.
The court had reserved its ruling on the application.
Delivering his ruling on Wednesday, Justice Muslim Hassan, held that there were no evidence in the second accused’ international passport to show that she had ever gone to the United States of America for treatment.
The court held that there were better hospitals in Nigeria that could adequately handle the accused’ ill-health.
“It is my duty to balance the interest of the state, that of the accused persons and of the general public in granting an application of this nature, the court would not be able to enforce her arrest if she jumps bail.
“It is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit and substance, ” he ruled.
Meanwhile, continuation of trial could not proceed on Wednesday as the second defence counsel, Mr Micheal Lana, was absent in court.
Mr Ola Adeseun, who appeared on his behalf, informed the court that Lana was before the Court of Appeal and had written a letter to the court about his absence.
He told the court that the case was adjourned until today for cross-examination of the first witness in the trial-within-trial, but added that he could not be present since he was likely to be called as a witness.
He stressed that if he stayed in court during trial, then his evidence would bear no weight.
Besides, Adeosun informed the court that the second accused had a pending application for the transfer of the case to Ibadan on the grounds that he had about 150 witnesses to call, all of who reside in Ibadan.
The third defence counsel, Oladeji, also hinted the court on a similar application by third accused, adding that third defence had over 65 witnesses to call, who are also based in Ibadan.
In his reaction, EFCC counsel, Mr Nnemeka Omenwa, argued that counsel to the second accused should have sent another lawyer to represent the accused instead of truncating the proceedings of the day.
Justice Hassan held that both applications of the defence would be taken together at a latter date.
The court fixed May 16 for continuation of trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the accused were alleged to have received the N650 million from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 General Elections.
The money was said to be part of the 115 million dollars allegedly disbursed by Alison-Madueke to influence the outcome of the 2015 elections.(NAN)