A former minister’s son, Shamsudeen Bala, was on Wednesday granted permission to travel for lesser hajj by a Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja.
The lesser hajj is an Islamic rite to Saudi Arabia recommended for Muslims who can afford it. It is not mandatory on Muslims, neither is it health related, with health treatment being a mjor reason judges usually give such permission for foreign travels.
Mr. Bala, son of former FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, is being prosecuted by the anti-graft EFCC for alleged money laundering totalling about N1.2 billion.
He was re-arraigned on May 30, on an amended 15-count alongside four companies – Bird Trust Agro Allied Limited, Intertrans Global Logistic Limited, Diakin Telecommunications Limited and Bal-Vac Mining Nigeria Limited.
The father, the ex-minister, is being prosecuted separately for allegedly fraudulently receiving over N800 million as gratification while in office as minister.
At the resumed hearing of the son’s trial on Wednesday, the defence counsel, Kanayo Okafor, asked the court to release the international passport of the defendant to enable him travel for the lesser hajj.
The prosecution counsel, Ben Ikani, who opposed the application, stated that the defence was trying to delay the trial.
After listening to both counsel, the judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba granted the defendant permission to travel for the hajj.
Mr. Dimgba ruled that a member of the National Assembly shall write an undertaking to guarantee that the defendant would be back to the country.
He ordered that the EFCC would verify the identity of the NASS member before releasing defendant’s international passport.
The judge further ordered that the defendant must deposit his international passport to the registry of the court within 24 hours of his return to the country.
He adjourned the matter until June 26 for continuation of trial.