Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 rejected an application by Olugbenga Obadina, Managing Director, Almond Properties Limited, who is standing trial an eight-count charge of money laundering to travel abroad for medical treatment.
Obadina allegedly collected a sum of N2, 417, 000,000.00 (two billion, four hundred and seventeen million naira), paid into his company’s account in tranches, between 2013 and 2015 from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, under Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) without contract award.
The offence is contrary to Section 15(2), (d) of the money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
At the resumed hearing, Obadina’s counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, applied for a temporary release of his passport to enable him travel for medical treatment abroad.
Uche said that the medical papers testifying to the need for the defendant to seek treatment were attached to the affidavit that was deposed to by the applicant himself.
However, counsel to the EFCC, Larrys P. Aso, opposed the application on the grounds that the medical papers emanated from the clinic of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, which was not related to the applicant in anyway.
Aso maintained that the prosecution still held unto its earlier stand that the defendant was a flight risk, adding that ulcer, the ailment the defendant was seeking treatment for could be handled in Nigeria. He added that the prosecution was relying on the records of the court of January 27, where the defendant’s surety, Maryam Sagir applied to withdraw as surety.
In his ruling, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, said that in applying the discretion of the court, he was not minded to grant the application.
“I have carefully considered the application of the defendant for the release of his passport to travel abroad for medical treatment. Traditionally, the court has always maintained a liberal approach in releasing passport for medical treatment based on the presumption that the defendant is innocent until proved otherwise.
“Also, going by what transpired on July 15, 2016 during his arraignment where he refused to present his biodata and the happenings of January 27, where questions were raised concerning his surety. Even though the issue of the surety has been resolved, I am not minded to grant the application in favour of the applicant”, Justice Dimgba held.
He dismissed the application, adding that the court might take a different view in a subsequent application if compelling evidence was presented.
The case has been adjourned to March 22, 2017 for continuation of hearing.
Earlier, Victor Agunzi, counsel to Sagir, who had applied to withdraw her (Sagir) suretyship told the court that the parties had met and sorted out their differences. As a result, he said Sagir would continue as Obadina’s surety.