An Ikeja High Court, on Friday, refused an application by Bamanga Tukur’s son, Mahmud Tukur, and two others implicated in the fuel subsidy scam to travel abroad for Hajj and “business trips.”
Justice of the high court judge, Lateefat Folami, while refusing Mr. Tukur’s application, Alex Ochonogo, and that of Abdullahi Alao, son of business tycoon Arisekola Alao,; stated that granting them permission to travel for
Hajj, which begins in October, will be subjudice since they are yet to be tried.
“Granting this application will be an interference with the same matter which is before my learned brother Justice Onigbanjo who ordered that their international passport by kept with the EFCC,” said Mrs. Folami.
Last month, the trio were arraigned before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo on a nine count charge of obtaining monies under false pretence and falsification of documents.
Their company, Eternal Oil And Gas Plc, allegedly obtained N1.9 billion from the Petroleum support Fund for a purported importation of 80.3million litres of Premium Motor Spirit.
Among their bail conditions, Mr. Onigbanjo ordered that their international passports and travel documents be deposited with the EFCC.
In an application dated August 14, Olaniran Obele, the suspects’ counsel told the court that his clients wished to travel to abroad on “business trips.”
While Mr. Tukur intends to attend a board meeting as well as perform Hajj, Mr. Ochonogor wishes to attend a board meeting – which had been rescheduled to August 27 to enable his attendance – in Paris, their counsel said.
Mr. Obele, while presenting Notices of Meetings which his clients wishes to attend in Paris and London, added that they have no intention to abscond if granted the permission.
“Mr. Tukur’s father is the PDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) chairman, he stood surety for him and he would not want to jeopardize that,” Mr. Obele said.
Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to the EFCC, had argued that the suspects’ travel documents are yet to be reviewed by the agency.
“Granting them permission (to travel) could open an escape route like in the James Ibori’s (former Delta State governor) case,” Mr. Oyedepo said.
The trio becomes the first, in the long list of suspects fingered in the monumental fuel subsidy scam, to seek to travel abroad.
Their trial, before Justice Onigbanjo, has been scheduled for November 13 and 14.