Justice Lateefat Folami of the Ikeja High Court on Friday refused an application by some directors of an indicted oil marketer, Oil Marketing and Trading Companies (OM&Ts), to travel abroad.
The judge, who declined the request by the company officials to travel abroad for hajj and other business trips, urged them to wait until their trial judge resumed from his annual vacation.
The judge gave the ruling in an application to travel, brought by Mahmud Tukur, son of the PDP National Chairman, Bamanga? Tukur; Abdullahi Alao, son of a prominent businessman, Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao; and Felix Ochonogor.
The trio recently regained their freedom upon fulfilling their bail conditions set by the trial judge.
Folami held that she would not over-rule the earlier order granted by the trial court and adjourned the matter till November 13.
Folami said she could not grant their prayers, especially when Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, who ordered the seizure of their travelling documents, did so to ensure that they appeared for their trial on the fixed dates.
According to her, allowing them to travel for hajj which would begin in October would clash with the November dates earlier fixed for trial by Onigbanjo.
She also stated that the dates slated for their business trips abroad had been over-taken by events.
The applicants who were arraigned over alleged fraud in the Petroleum Support Fund had sought the court’s permission to travel abroad.
In their motion on notice, dated August 14 filed before the vacation judge, Justice Lateefat Folami of the Ikeja High Court, the applicants through their counsel, Olaniran Obele, said they needed to travel to Paris and London for business trips.
Specifically, Mahmud, the first applicant wanted to travel abroad to attend board and committee meetings where he was a director as well as to perform this year’s hajj.
Ochonogor, the second applicant, also wanted to travel to Paris to attend a bond-holder meeting which, he said, should have held last month but was rescheduled to Aug. 27, to enable him attend and explain his present situation before the board.
In their applications, they tendered three exhibits, comprising Notices of Meetings which they intended to attend both in London and Paris.
Their lawyer had argued before Folami that the applicants would not abscond if their applications were granted.
Obele added that the first applicant’s father, who is the PDP Chairman, stood surety for him and he would not want to jeopardise that.
“The second applicant was abroad when they were charged and was called by the first applicant and he came back for his arraignment voluntarily. When they were granted administrative bail, the second defendant travelled to Ukraine and did not abscond but came back for his arraignment,” he said.
However, opposing the application, the EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that Onigbanjo’s order asking the applicants to drop their international passports had not been reviewed.
He said there was nothing in the exhibits tendered by the applicants that showed or suggested that the meeting to be attended by the second applicant had been rescheduled.
He urged the court not to grant them permission to travel.