N650m Fraud: Court Dismisses PDP Chieftain, Otiti’s Application To Travel Abroad For Treatment
Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, dismissed an application filed by a Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) chieftain, Olanrewaju Otiti, to travel to the United States of America, USA, for medical check.
Otiti is facing trial alongside Jumoke Akinjide, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and Senator Ayo Adeseun on an amended 24-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N650m.
They were alleged to have received the money from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison- Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
The money was part of the $115m allegedly disbursed by Allison-Madueke to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.
At the last adjourned sitting, Otiti, who is the third defendant, had, in the application, claimed that she was in the US attending to her health when the EFCC invited her to its office in connection with the alleged fraud.
Otiti, through her lawyer, Akinola Oladeji, had also claimed that she left the US to honour the EFCC invitation.
Consequently, Otiti had prayed the court to release her international passport in order to enable her travel to the US for the medicals.
The judge, however, deferred ruling in the application till today.
In her ruling today , Justice Hassan said that after a careful study of Otiti’s international passport, he could not find any proof that she ( Otiti) travelled to the US at the time she claimed to have received the EFCC invitation.
The judge further held that the accompanying email address in her application did not show that the hospital, where she plans to go for treatment, is located in Texas, US, contrary to her claim.
” There are good hospitals in Nigeria, where you can go to for treatment, ” the judge further held.
The judge, therefore, dismissed the application for lack of merit.
Meanwhile, further proceedings of the matter was stalled due to the absence of the lead counsel to the second defendant, Adeseun.
Adeosun Ola, who represented the lead counsel to the second defendant, told the court that his name was mentioned by Usman Zakari, an operative of the EFCC, when the court ordered a trial within trial at the last adjourned sitting.
He, therefore, urged the court to excuse him from today’s proceedings on the grounds that he might be a witness in the matter.
In view of this, the lead counsel to the first defendant, Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN, drew the attention of the court to the danger of continuing with the trial in the absence of a counsel to the second defendant.
Ayorinde, therefore, asked for an adjournment of the matter ” in the interest of justice.”
He also told the court that the lead counsel to the second defendant had written to the court that he would not be available today for the trial.
The prosecution counsel , Nnemeka Omewa, did not object the adjournment sought by the the defence counsels.
Also, counsels to the second and third defendants brought applications seeking the transfer of the case to Ibadan, Oyo State.
Though counsel to the second defendant claimed that the application had been served on all the parties, the prosecution counsel, Omewa, denied knowledge of such.
Omewa also said the application was not ripe for hearing.
” My Lord, the business of today is for ruling on the application of the third defendant seeking the release of her international passport and continuation of trial,” he further argued.
Justice Hassan adjourned the case to May 16, 2018 for continuation of trial.