By Sandra Umeh
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday granted an application for overseas travel by a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jumoke Akinjide, facing charges of N650 million fraud.
Akinjide is standing trial alongside two chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State, Ayo Adeseun and Olanrewaju Otiti.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting the defendants on an amended 24-count charge, bordering on the offence.
They had pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail.
On Wednesday, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) appeared for the first defendant, while Messrs Ola Adeosun and Akinola Oladeji appeared for the second and third defendants respectively.
Mr Nnaemeka Omenwa appeared for the EFCC.
Ayorinde moved an application before the court, seeking leave for the first defendant to travel overseas to attend her daughter’s wedding in the UK.
He supported his application with a 20-paragraph counter affidavit, a written address dated Dec. 13, 2018, with exhibits attached, urging the court to grant his application.
Ayorinde prayed the court to exercise favourable discretion in granting the application, which had been narrowed down in favour of the applicant.
The prosecutor did not oppose this application, but left same at the court’s discretion.
Other defence counsel did not also oppose the application.
In a consequent bench ruling, Justice Muslim Hassan held : “I have carefully read the application, the affidavit in support and the written address.
“Learned counsel for the prosecution did not oppose the application, but left same at the discretion of the court.
“I am of the view that the interest of justice will be better served, if this application is granted, and it is hereby granted as prayed.”
After the court’s ruling, the judge urged the second defence counsel (Adeosun) to move his application before the court.
Adeosun then moved his application seeking an order that Justice M. S. Hassan recuses himself from the suit, and that the file be returned to the Chief Judge of the court for re-assignment.
He supported his application with an affidavit, a written address as well as exhibits, urging the court to grant his request.
In the same vein, third defence counsel, (Oladeji) also moved a similar application before the court, seeking similar reliefs, and urging the judge to withdraw from the suit.
He said that his motion on notice was dated Dec. 17, 2018, containing eight grounds and supported by a four-paragraph affidavit and a written address.
Besides, defence counsel told the court that a letter had also been written to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, in relation to the application.
He urged the court to grant his application as prayed.
On his part, the prosecutor (Omenwa) also moved his application in opposition to the motions moved by second and third defence counsel.
In adopting his processes, he informed the court that the prosecution filed a four-paragraph counter affidavit dated Jan. 7, deposed to by one Afolabi Oladeji.
Omenwa adopted his processes and urged the court to dismiss the application, describing it as “vexatious and frivolous”.
After listening to the submissions of counsel, Justice Hassan adjourned the case until March 6, for ruling.
The defendants were re-arraigned on Jan. 16, 2018, on the amended charge.
They were alleged to have received monies from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.