A Federal High Court in Lagos has granted a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman, leave to travel abroad for medical check.
The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Aikawa, granted her leave while ruling on an application seeking similar reliefs.
Usman is charged with a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, and a former National Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Yusuf Danjuma.
Also charged is a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had preferred against the accused, a 17-count charge of laundering about N4.6 billion.
However, they had each pleaded not guilty.
In his ruling on Wednesday, Justice Aikawa held that Usman was permitted to travel to the United States for three weeks, between July and August, but must surrender her passport to the court not later than Aug. 31.
Meanwhile, counsel to Fani-Kayode, Mr Norrison Quakers (SAN), informed the court that it was yet to rule on his pending application for the case to be moved to the Abuja division of the court.
Although the court said that the application was not in the court’s file, Quakers insisted that the application was filed on the day of re-arraignment of the accused, and had been received and acknowledged by the EFCC.
He noted that the application was jurisdictional in scope and should be determined before trial could commence.
He argued, among others, that the power of the Chief Judge to make the practice rules flowed from Section 490 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Laws, pursuant to Section 254 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
But in response, the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, relying on Section 396 of the ACJL, argued, among others, that Quakers’ position was not correct in law.
He said that it would amount to alteration of the law, to say that the substantive issue, which is the allegation as contained in the charge, cannot be taken without determining the application.
He argued that Section 396 of the ACJL is higher in hierarchy and takes precedence over the practice direction.
Oyedepo submitted that the application cannot constitute a stay in the case.
In a bench ruling, Justice Aikawa upheld the prosecution’s argument.
The court also allowed the prosecution to call its first witness, Mr Olusegun Idowu, who began his evidence in chief.
The witness, who identified himself as a media consultant, said he got two contracts of N24 million and N6 million, respectively, from Fani-Kayode through an intermediary, one Olubode Oke.
However, at the prosecution’s request, the court adjourned trial till June 9 to enable the witness bring originals of invoices and receipts of the alleged transactions.
In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.
In counts eight to 14, the accused were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
Meanwhile, in counts 15 to 17 Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke, who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million, in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
Besides, Fani-Kayode was alleged to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
All offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money laundering (prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.