A High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos today fixed the 6th and 7th of May 2013 for the trial of Mahmud Tukur, son of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur; Mamman Ali, son of the former National Chairman of the Party, Ahmadu Ali; and Abdullahi Arisekola-Alao, the son of Ibadan based businessman, Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao.
They are to be tried for charges of defrauding the Petroleum Support Fund of about N1.899bn.
Another man, Alex Ochonogo, as well as Eterna Oil and Gas Plc, were arraigned along with them for obtaining the nearly N2bn from the Subsidy Support Fund although they had not imported even one liter of the Premium Motor Spirit.
Abdulahi Arisekola-Alao’s application for the return of his international passport, which was earlier seized by the court as part of measures to ensure that the suspects did not escape trial was granted. He told the court that he needed to travel to take care of his sick son in the United States, and that he would be away for 30 days and return well before his trial date.
The EFCC lawyer did not oppose his application, saying that his availability for trial was the important factor for the prosecution team.
Mahmud Tukur also indicated he would apply for his own travel passport on business grounds.
In August last year, both men had also applied to an interim judge, Justice Lateefat Folami for leave to travel. Their trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, was on leave at the time.
That application was turned down by the Justice Folami, who insisted that the trial judge’s rule which adjourned their matter before his leave would rule on their application upon his return.
Apart from the N1.899bn fraud for which Abdulahi, Mahmud and Ochonogo are being jointly tried before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, Abdulahi and his company, Axenergy Limited, also separately face seven counts of subsidy fraud amounting to N1.472bn. before another judge, Justice Habeeb Abiru.
Justice Onigbanjo has fixed May 6th and 7th for the trial of the trio.