A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Oyo State, Chief Olanrewaju Otiti, who is being prosecuted for an alleged fraud of N650m, has urged the court to release her passport to enable her to travel to the United States of America.
Otiti, through her lawyer, Akinola Oladeji, told the court on Friday that she had a liver-related ailment and would like to get medical treatment in the US.
The lawyer urged the court to dismiss the argument by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that her client was a flight risk and would not return to stand her trial if allowed to go.
The EFCC is prosecuting Otiti, alongside a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide, and Senator Ayo Adeseun.
The trio was arraigned on January 16, 2018, on 24 charges before the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The EFCC, in the charges, accused them of collecting N650m from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
The anti-graft agency claimed that they ought to have “reasonably known that the money formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act,” adding that they handled it without going through a financial institution in violation of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
It said they acted contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2012, and were liable to punishment under Section 15(3) and 4 of the same Act.
But the defendants pleaded not guilty.
At the Friday’s proceedings, Otiti’s lawyer, Oladeji, prayed Justice Muslim Hassan to order the release of her passport so she could embark on the foreign medical trip.
“The applicant is seeking a conditional release of her passport for a trip to attend to her health challenges,” Oladeji said.
He said Otiti had been suffering from the liver-related ailment for long, stressing that she was abroad receiving treatment when the EFCC telephoned her to come and make a written statement.
Oladeji said out of respect for the law, her client abandoned her treatment in the US and returned, adding that after making the statement, she returned to the US to resume the treatment but she was again invited by the EFCC and she obliged.
“For the EFCC to call her a flight risk is a most unfair statement. We have stated that the ailment she’s suffering from is a liver disorder,” he said.
He told the court that he just received a medical report on Friday morning from the University Teaching Hospital in Ibadan, stating that the PDP chieftain had “two cysts on the left and one on the right,” adding that the condition could not be treated in Nigeria.
“This is just a confirmation that the operation can only be done in the United States of America. We have stated that her complete medical history is with the hospital and indeed she was referred there from Nigeria,” Oladeji added.”