N5bn fraud: Court grants ex-Enugu governor, Nnamani, leave for extended overseas treatment

Chimaroke Nnamani

Nnamani and his co-accused persons were arraigned on 105 count charge of money laundering.

The trial of former Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, was stalled, Tuesday, after his lawyer said that he had not returned from his overseas trip.

A Federal High Court in Lagos had, on April 17, granted Mr. Nnamani, who is now a Senator, leave to travel abroad for medical treatment.

Justice Mohammed Yinusa, who granted him the leave had, however, directed that the former governor return to the country before the May 28 adjourned date.

On Tuesday, Mr. Nnamani’s lawyer told the judge that his client, who had travelled to the United States to treat his Hypercholesterolemia – a condition characterized by very high levels of cholesterol in the blood – had not returned.

Mr. Yinusa, while “reluctantly” adjourning till September 25, ordered that Mr. Nnamani must return to Nigeria before the adjourned date.

Though the former governor was arraigned in 2007, before Justice Abubakar Tijani, for a N5 billion money laundering charge; his trial is yet to begin.

The 105 count charge also involved Sunday Anyaogu, his aide; Rainbownet (Nig) Ltd; Hillgate (Nig) Ltd; Cosmos FM; Capital City Automobile (Nig) Ltd; Renaissance University Teaching Hospital; and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School.

The case was later re-assigned to Charles Archibong, who has now been forced into retirement following the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, vehemently objected to the latest overseas trip which they say is a ploy to delay the trial.

The court had already granted Mr. Nnamani permission to travel abroad, on health grounds, on four occasions.

Last month, while granting Mr. Nnamani the leave to travel abroad last month, the judge insisted that denying his request would amount to violating the 2007 bail conditions granted him by Justice Peter Olayiwola.

“One of the conditions of the bail granted was that he shall give a written undertaking that he will not travel outside the country without the permission of the court,” Mr. Yinusa had said.

“My understanding of the above bail condition is that anytime the accused/applicant intends to travel outside Nigeria, he must seek the leave of the court.

The emphasis is on seeking the leave of the court and not on providing justification for the journey,” he had added.

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