Monday September 16, 2019 12:02 AM

PDP chieftain could abscond if allowed to go abroad, EFCC tells court

A Federal High Court in Lagos has been told that a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mrs. Olanrewaju Otiti, could flee if given the opportunity to travel out of the country.

Mrs Otiti is standing trial alongside a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jumoke Akinjide, and another PDP chieftain, Senator Ayo Ademola Adeseun, for alleged N650 million fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which filed the charge, told Justice Nicholas Oweibo that Mrs Otiti could abscond, if permitted to go abroad for medical treatment.

The accused, who is on bail, filed an application seeking the release of her international passport for a foreign medical trip.

Her counsel Akinola Oladeji told Justice Oweibo that her health was failing.

“We have attached her medical report, dated July 11, 2018, from the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, as well as her medical history from 2009 up till 2019 to prove the urgency of the matter,” Oladeji said.

But opposing the application, the anti-graft agency said it would be difficult to extradite Mrs Otiti to Nigeria, if she jumped bail.

In a counter-affidavit deposed to by one of its operatives, John Michael Idoko, the EFCC noted that the Federal High Court’s jurisdiction “does not extend beyond the shores of Nigeria”.

It also noted that there was no referral note from any hospital recommending Mrs Otiti’s travel on medical ground.

“The applicant (Otiti) has not placed any evidence before the court to show that she cannot be treated of her ailment in Nigeria.

“There is no fact within the content of this application and the supporting documents filed by the applicant did not state reasonable ground for this honourable court to grant her application but only to cast doubt in the mind of the court due to its variation.

“Should the honourable court be inclined to granting the application, conditions that will ensure the applicant’s return to face her trial must be attached,” the deponent averred.

Justice Oweibo reserved ruling on the application till tomorrow.

The defendants are facing an amended 24-count charge of alleged N650 million fraud.

The money was said to be part of the $115 million allegedly shared by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to influence the outcome of the 2015 general election, The Nation reports.

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