By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
Andrew Yakubu, the former Group Managing Director, (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) yesterday, secured leave of court, to travel abroad for his medical treatment.
The trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed granted him the permission, following his application before the federal high court, Abuja, of having a medical conditions that needed attention.
Yakubu is facing a six-count charge of money laundering and non-assets declaration brought against his by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
The defendant filed a no-case submission after the prosecution closed its case after calling seven witnesses.
Arguing his application, the former NNPC boss reminded the court his compliance with the court conditions on the previous permission to go his medical treatment abroad.
He submitted that he returned on time and duly returned his passport to the court’s registry.
Indicating that he had already booked an appointment with his doctor, the defendant played the court to grant him the application, which according to him, will enable him to be fit for his trial.
Opposing the application, the prosecuting counsel, Ben Ikani, argued that the incessant trips abroad for medical treatment amounted to medical tourism, adding that it is an abuse of the bail conditions.
The agency held that as the prosecuting agency, it had closed its case and the defendant should have waited for the court’s ruling on his no-case submission before seeking permission to travel.
The prosecution had also argued that Yakubu’s submission that if not allowed to travel for medical treatment, he would not be able to face his trial was a subtle attempt to blackmail the court.
In his ruling, the trial judge, Justice Mohammed noted that the prosecution had not opposed the previous applications to travel and cannot now describe same as an abuse of the bail system.
The judge added that the prosecution did not deny that the defendant had previously travelled for medical treatment and kept faith with his trial by not absconding but returning as and when due.
The judge held that the defendant had consistently maintained that he needed medical treatment, adding that the prosecution’s claim that the defendant was blackmailing the court is out of place.
He ruled that Yakubu’s passport be released to him on the personal guarantee of the sureties who signed his bail bond.
The adjourned till May 16 to rule on the no-case submission.
Recall that EFCC had, on February 3, 2017, raided Yakubu’s house, located on Chikun Road, Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna South Local Government Area of Kaduna State, from where it claimed to have recovered $9,772, 800 and £74,000.00, a recovery which informed the charge.