Justice Silvanus Orji of the FCT High Court sitting in Apo has adjourned to October 24, 2017, hearing of the N735 million subsidy fraud case involving two directors of Origin Oil and Gas Limited - Adegbite Adetoye and Ponnle Abiodun.
The judge at today’s sitting also granted two separate applications by I. O. Olorundare, SAN, and K. K. Eleja, SAN representing Adetoye and Abiodun respectively.
The first application, dated June 23, 2017 by Olorundare is seeking an order directing the EFCC to release Adetoye's passport, while also asking for leave of the court to enable him travel abroad for medicals.
Similarly, Eleja, in the second application dated June 28, 2017, also sought the leave of the court to allow the second defendant (Abiodun) travel abroad for follow up on his medical treatment.
Responding to the two prayers, Elizabeth Alabi, counsel to EFCC, did not oppose the second defendant's application but vehemently opposed the first defendant's applications.
According to her, “Adetoye is still under investigation that is why the Commission is still in possession of his passport, and allowing him to travel abroad will jeopardize his investigation”.
She added: "He has not given the court a concrete reason why his passport should be released to him. He cannot say that no hospital in Nigeria can handle his ailment as there is no letter from any general hospital in Nigeria saying they cannot handle his medical condition.
"If his passport is released, he will interfere with his investigation. We are aware of the second defendant's condition that is why we are not opposing his application”.
She urged the court to refuse the first defendant's applications in the interest of justice.
After due consideration of the submissions of the two counsels, Justice Orji opined that purpose of granting bail is for the court to have record of the whereabouts of the accused, not to prevent them from traveling outside.
"I support the applications before me. The refusal of the applications could amount to speculations that the first defendant will not return.
"I hereby grant the applications before me and the EFCC is hereby directed to release his passport on or before July 14, 2017 so long as he will return the passport before October 24, 2017 to face his trial”, the judge ruled.
Head, Media & Publicity
July 6, 2017