N4.7b fraud: Babalakin’s co-defendant gets leave to travel abroad

Wale Babalakin, [Photo: punchng.com]

The Lagos judge ordered the release of the defendant’s passport.

An Ikeja High Court on Tuesday granted permission to Alex Okoh, who is standing trial alongside the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Ltd., Wale Babalakin, to travel to the United Kingdom for medical treatment.

Messrs Okoh and Babalakin are being prosecuted for allegedly transferring N4.7 billion on behalf of former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, who was convicted of theft by a British court.

Tuesday’s permission is coming less than a week after the same judge ordered the release of Mr. Babalakin’s passport to enable him travel to South Africa for medical treatment.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arraigned the defendants on January 17, alongside their companies — Stabilini Visioni Ltd., Bi-Courtney Ltd., and Renix Nigeria Ltd.

The defendants are facing a 27-count charge of conspiracy, retention of proceeds of a criminal conduct and corruptly conferring benefit on account of public action.

Ruling on an application for the permission, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo said: “The EFCC is, hereby, directed to release the travelling documents of the second defendant/applicant (Okoh), which are in its custody, to enable him to travel to the United Kingdom to keep a medical appointment between March 6 and 19.

“The applicant is to return the documents to the custody of the EFCC within 48 hours of his return to this country,” the judge held.

The judge, however, noted that there was no medical report from the United Kingdom- based hospital attached to the application.

He, therefore, directed the applicant’s counsel, Olaniran Obele, to file a further affidavit with a valid medical report attached, and serve same on the EFCC for record purposes.

Earlier, Mr. Obele informed the court that Mr. Okoh had travelled to the United Kingdom from December 30, 2012 to January 7, 2013, for medical treatment.

He said that his client needed to keep the medical appointment for the sake of his health.

The EFCC counsel, Taiwo Ogunleye, did not object to the application, but urged the court to be cautious in allowing the defendant to travel to the United Kingdom, to avoid losing the jurisdiction to entertain the case.

She said:”The case that led to the charge of the second defendant came from the United Kingdom.

“He may be arrested in the United Kingdom, and that may take away my Lord’s jurisdiction of the matter.”

The case has been adjourned to March 27 for hearing in all pending applications.


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