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Alleged N4.9bn Fraud: Ex-minister Nenadi Usman Gets Travel Permission

Nigeria's Finance Minister Nenadi Usman speaks during a luncheon at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - World Bank meeting, in Singapore September 18, 2006. REUTERS/Tim Chong

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the release of the passport of a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman, to enable her travel to the United States of America to seek medical attention.

Usman, who is being tried for an alleged N4.9bn fraud, had told the court that she was suffering from breast cancer.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa, in a ruling on Wednesday, gave Usman permission to travel for three weeks between July and August to the US but ordered her to surrender her passport to the court not later than August 31, 2017.

Usman is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alongside a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode; one Danjuma Yusuf and a company, Joint Trust Dimensions Limited.

The defendants were first arraigned on June 28, 2016 on 17 counts before Justice Muslim Hassan of the same court.

But Fani-Kayode objected to being tried before Justice Hassan on the grounds that he would not get justice because Justice Hassan was a lawyer with the EFCC before he became a judge.

The case was later transferred to Justice Aikawa.

At the resumed proceedings on Wednesday, Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN), urged Justice Aikawa to first determine the prayer by his client to have the case transferred to Abuja.

“Practice direction is clear on this matter. This is what the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, in his wisdom, has formulated. The rule is recognised by Section 490(d) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (2015). Rules of the court are meant to be obeyed,” Quakers argued.

But the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, relying on Section 396 of the ACJL, argued, among others, that Quakers’ position was incorrect in law.

“I submit that it would amount to turning the law upside down to say that the substantive issue, which is the allegation as contained in the charge, cannot be taken without determining the application. Section 396 of the ACJL is higher in hierarchy and takes precedence over the practice direction,” he argued.

Ruling, Justice Aikawa upheld Oyedepo’s argument after which the prosecution proceeded to call its first witness, Olusegun Idowu.


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