UPDATE: Ex-minister accused of N38 billion fraud fails to secure court permission to travel abroad

Nenadi and Fani-Kayode

A former minister of finance, Nenadi Usman, is at the risk of losing her life to breast cancer if not granted urgent leave to travel abroad, Abiodun Owonikoko, her lawyer, told a federal court in Lagos on Wednesday.

Mrs. Usman is facing a 17-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing, and money laundering alongside Femi Fani-Kayode, a former aviation minister; Danjuma Mohammed; and Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited amounting to over N38 billion.

The accused pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Amidst a charged atmosphere on Wednesday, Mr. Owonikoko reminded the judge he had, at the last hearing date (December 2, 2016), filed an application seeking to retrieve his client’s international passport to enable her keep her medical appointment abroad.

The defence lawyer urged the court that the application be heard first.

But Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, noted that the defence team had already filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court.

“I am thinking that on the face of the motion, it has lapses,” Mr. Oyedepo said of the defence lawyer’s request.

“The issue first should be that the court handles the application challenging the jurisdiction of the court which is more urgent, except if my learned colleague wants to strike out that application and then we can handle this issue.

“I think it’s tidy, logical and legal to determine the propriety of our appearance before our Lordship before any other matter.”

Mr. Owonikoko responded that the motion for medical leave was filed first before the application challenging the court’s jurisdiction.

“The defendant has already missed her previous appointment in hospital and this is very serious because she has breast cancer which is threatening her life and we only ask that there be an unconditional release of her passport.

“There was no application opposing this motion, we have brought her medical reports and it was not opposed. Even the president of the country sought for ten days medical leave but we all know where we are now.”

Mr. Oyedepo objected to the defence lawyer’s claims saying that it was not in his position to give evidence.

“With all due respect to the counsel, the jurisdiction of the judge is being challenged and I think that it’s urgent.”

But a visibly angry Mr. Owonikoko replied, “Why do we talk like this? If this defendant is bed-ridden, will this case go on?”

Justice Muslim Hassan asked Mr. Owonikoko, “If my jurisdiction is being challenged, shall I go ahead and hear any other case without first determining my jurisdiction?”

Responding, Mr. Owonikoko said, “It is not going to be palatable for a lady with breast cancer to be flying down from Abuja to Lagos, lodge in a hotel for a case that happened in Abuja.”

Mr. Oyedepo noted that the court sat during vacation and that there was no affidavit of urgency filed alongside the defence’s application.

“During your Lordship’s leave, this was not sought and obtained during the vacation bearing in mind that the defendant was supposed to fly on 20th December,” Mr. Oyedepo said.

“So the question to be asked is when does the application suddenly become urgent? The time for the defendant to fly has elapsed which was supposed to take place 20th December, 2016, and 20 January, 2017.

“When there are two issues before the court with one challenging the jurisdiction of the court and another on health issue, I only ask, which one should the court take first? Is it not lawful that the court handles the one challenging its jurisdiction.”

In his ruling, the judge held that he could not attend to the application seeking for medical leave while there is another application challenging his jurisdiction by the same applicant.

He then adjourned the case till March 1, 2017.


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  • Bidemi Lukman

    Imagine if this woman has no stolen Nigerian money, would she be able to travel abroad to treat breast cancer? Can she imagine number of women her action has caused death because the money to build such facility to treat cancer in Nigeria has been stolen by her and her likes. May God judge her and her likes accordingly.

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  • Malik Isah

    because of the 38 billion she and her collaborating thieves stole, thousands of women will die of breast cancer . I hope the judge put that to her clearly while denying her request. 38 billion could have built several cancer centres in the country.

  • West

    After stealing funds meant for our health care system leading to the untimely death of thousings of hard working people of Nigeria, this thief now wants to use to proceeds of the loot to travel abroad for cancer treatment. Wonderful!

    • Abdullah Musa

      Let her pay back and take her domicile on the moon if she so wishes.

  • Bright Henry

    First signs of thieves. Always looking for health issues to use as an Alibi to run abroad.

  • Angry Niaja

    Premiun Times has been holding on to my comments now for days, it goes into “pending” and its then not published, WHY. Once you write about certain individuals, I think you are compromised, brown envelops have probably changed hands

    • ’70

      It must contain abusive language buddy

      • Angry Niaja

        None whatsoever, I just queried why all those facing corruption charges feign one illness or the other

        • ’70

          LOL… It must then be because of “Angry Naija”

  • Suleiman Alatise

    Let her show the so called sick breast to the court, cause no lie is too big to these crooks.

    • Ha

      Not only to the court, it should be published in Premium Times page. We are all stakeholders.

      • Julius

        lolz.

  • TruthBeSaid

    In the last six months, 28 pensioners died in Cross River ALONE over non-payment of entitlements.
    What then is the big deal, Mr Lawyer, if one of the big THIEVES behind this dies of cancer?

  • Dazmillion

    It seem government money is very toxic, most of this corrupt rats are sick and dying with all the billions they sitting on

    • Ha

      Well done!

    • Julius

      Let them face death just like ordinary Nigerians that they stole from.

  • ’70

    Oya, let’s run some independent tests to confirm!
    Why do they always fall sick when facing the dock?
    If only they knew this, they would have provided better health facilities instead of going on a stealing spree…

  • Kayjay

    If you can find Jesus Christ birth certificate in Nigeria (as alledged by one time UK ambassador to Nigeria) then you can be well assured that most of the illnesses could made up. Any doctor will provide certificate for the right price.

    Let her stay and face the tune just like every other Nigerian

  • A Aminu

    What is the relevance of the statement by the defense counsel that even the president sought for ten days leave to treat his medical challenges? Is the president before a court of law. This accused person is before a court and the counsel defending her is challenging the competence of the court, at the same time seeking its consent to release his clients passport.

  • okun

    We must commend the work of PMB. I give him my total support and crave that Nigerians join him in eliminating corruption from Nigeria. however the war is against the corrupt and not against corruption. A war against corruption will demand that we do things differently and surgically. It is estimated that the wealth of Nigeria spirited by the political class is nothing less than $400 billion. if this fight is to yield dividends and not just as a road show, PMB must convoke and assembly of past leaders from the three tiers of government and demand that they surrender their ill gotten wealth. Failure which he should name shame and hold them to public opprobrium. Better should assemble them in a abuja and publish what they have stolen from Nigeria. i can assure you we should be able to raise $100billion.