The Federal High Court, Lagos Division, Friday granted permission for foreign medical travel to an official of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mrs Adegorite Joy, facing a N2.8 billion fraud charge.
Joy, who, along with six others and five companies, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), knelt in prayer and shed tears of relief following the judge’s ruling.
Justice Babs Kuewumi made the order following Joy’s application through her lawyer, Mr. A. B. Onifade, seeking the release of her passport to enable her travel to Dubai for medical treatment.
Onifade told the court during hearing last Monday that his client was suffering from acute sinusitis, asthma and hypertensive heart disease.
He said she had earlier scheduled a medical appointment with her doctor at the Saudi-German Hospital Group and had already purchased an air ticket before she was arrested in April.
Joy’s health, he added, had since suffered a decline and he urged Justice Kuewumi to order the EFCC to release her passport to enable her travel abroad, assuring that she would not jump bail or abscond.
“The fifth defendant will be away for a maximum of four weeks. We urge Your Lordship to exercise discretion in favour of the fifth defendant,” Onifade said.
Although opposed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), the judge, held in a short ruling, held that Joy’s application, dated June 15, was meritorious.
The judge observed that her application contained eight grounds in 19 paragraphs and was supported by documents of her medical history as well as travel documents.
“The applicant also filed an affidavit of extreme urgency for travel to the Saudi-German Hospital in Dubai, for medical treatment,” Justice Kuewumi noted.
The court held that the applicant was entitled to enjoy the constitutionally guaranteed presumption of innocence which enured in her favour.
“It’ll be in the overall interest of justice to allow the applicant travel.
“Furthermore, the court is on vacation and the substantive matter has already been adjourned till after vacation. Health is wealth,” Justice Kuewumi held.
He continued: “The defendant is hereby granted leave to travel to Dubai for specialised medical treatment. She is given four weeks to embark on the trip to Dubai and return to Nigeria.”
The judge further ordered the EFCC to “release immediately” the defendant’s international passport.
It also ordered that after the trip, the defendant must deposit the passport in the court’s custody.
Joy, the fifth defendant in the suit, was arraigned by the EFCC on April 12, alongside NAMA’s Managing Director, Ibrahim Abdusalam, and five other NAMA officials for an alleged N2.8bn fraud perpetrated within NAMA between August 2013 and January 2016.
The five others are Agbolade Segun, Clara Aliche, Olumuyiwa Adegorite, Bola Akinribido and Sesebor Abiodun.
Also joined as defendants are five companies, namely: Randville Investment Limited; Multeng Travels and Tours Limited; Delosa Limited; Airsea Delivery Limited and Sea Schedule System Limited.
They are standing trial on a 21-count charge bordering on conspiracy, advanced fee fraud and money laundering.
All defendants denied the charge and were granted N20m bail each with one surety each in the like sum.
They were also ordered to deposit their passports in the custody of the court until the conclusion of the trial.