Monday, November 3, 2014 6:25 pm
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday again granted approval to former Enugu State Governor, Chimaroke Nnamani, to travel overseas for medical checkup. Nnamani is standing trial alongside seven others on a 105-count charge bordering on laundering N5 billion.
The others are: Sunday Anyaogu, Rainbownet (Nig.) Ltd, Hillgate (Nig.) Ltd, Cosmos FM, Capital City Automobile (Nig.) Ltd, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School.
They are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Mohammed Yunusa granted the application for the accused to travel for medical checkup after listening to the submissions of counsel to the defence and that of the commission.
The judge, however, adjourned the matter to Nov. 18 to hear arguments on the issue of separating the trial of Nnamani from the other accused.
At the resumed hearing of the case, Ricky Tarfa (SAN), counsel to the accused, informed the court of a pending application seeking leave of court for his client to travel to the United States for medical checkup.
He said that the affidavit in support of his application had made it clear that the accused already had missed two earlier medical appointments in January and October, due to his trial.
Tarfa argued that the position of the law was clear that an accused must be in good health to be able to stand trial.
The defence counsel said that though previous adjournments had been granted in his client’s favour with the hope that his condition would improve, his health had deteriorated.
Tarfa said that consequently, he had filed the application seeking leave of court for the accused to travel abroad to seek medical attention.
Mr Kevin Uzozie, the prosecutor, said that though he was not opposed to the application, he was concerned that the criminal matter had lingered on since 2007 without progress.
The prosecutor said that in view of this, he had filed an application for the trial of the first accused to be separated from the others.
According to him, this is to prevent the ill health of Nnamani from standing as a clog in the criminal trial.
Uzozie said that whenever the accused was certified fit to stand trial, he would then be prosecuted.
However, Tarfa objected to separation of the former governor’s case from his co-accused.
He said that a counter affidavit had been filed on the ground that the trial cannot be separated.
The defence counsel said the trial could only commence when there were no further applications before the court.
The accused were re-arraigned before Yunusa on March 7, 2013, following the transfer of the previous judge, Justice Charles Archibong.
They had pleaded not guilty to the charge, while Yunusa had allowed them to continue with the earlier bail terms granted by Archibong.
These offences were allegedly committed while Nnamani was Governor of Enugu State between 1999 and 2007.
The alleged offences are said to have contravened the provisions of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act, 2004.