Wednesday, April 17, 2013

N4.5 Billion Fraud: Court Grant Nnamani’s Travel Request

The Federal High Court, Lagos, has granted former Enugu State Governor, Chimaroke Nnamani leave to travel to the United States of America for medical treatment.
Presiding Justice Mohammed Yinusa, while dismissing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) opposition to the application, held that the former governor needed not to justify his journey because “he can as well travel abroad for any other reason apart from health grounds.”
It will be recalled that the trial of the former governor, who was arraigned six years ago along with others for alleged money laundering involving about N4.5 billion of the state’s funds is yet to commence.
The court had on four previous occasions permitted the former governor to travel abroad on health grounds.
The court noted that by the ruling of the former presiding judge, Justice Peter Olayiwola, who granted bail to the former Governor on August 2, 2007, the only condition needed to be satisfied before travelling abroad was for the accused person to file an application seeking leave to travel abroad.
Justice Yinusa said that, “The applicant was granted bail by Justice Peter Olayiwola on August 2, 2007 and one of the conditions of the bail granted was that the first accused/applicant shall give a written undertaking that he will not travel outside the country without the permission of the court.
“My understanding of the above bail condition is that anytime the accused/applicant intends to travel outside Nigeria, he must seek the leave of court.
“It is very clear to me that what the first accused/applicant (Mr Nnamani) is required to do is to seek for leave of this court before travelling of Nigeria either on health grounds or any other grounds.
“The emphasis is on seeking leave of court and not on providing justification for the journey.
“It is therefore my considered opinion that the first accused/applicant has fulfilled the requirement and the conditions provided under the bail bond by seeking for leave of court before embarking on the medical treatment in the United States of America.”
Justice Yinusa further held that denying the request of the former governor as contained in his application, would amount to altering the bail conditions earlier granted him in 2007.
“To insist on or to compel the applicant to provide reasons or justification will amount to altering the order of the court granting bail to the accused/applicant,” Yinusa said.
The judge, however, ordered that the former governor must ensure he appears in court at the next adjourned date fixed for May 28, adding that he must also submit his passport and file a notice of return to Nigeria.
Nnamani and others were re-arraigned before Justice Yinusa on 105 counts of money laundering and economic crimes involving about N4.5bn.
The accused were said to have committed the alleged offences between 1999 and 2007 while Nnamani was the governor of Enugu State.
Others standing trial along with him are his former aide, Sunday Anyaogu, and six firms allegedly linked to them.
The firms are, Rainbownet Nig Ltd, Hillgate Nig Ltd, Cosmos FM, Capital City Automobile Nig Ltd, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School.
--------Channel News April 17, 2013
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