The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the release of former Ekiti State governor Ayodele Fayose’s passport to enable him to embark on a foreign medical trip, after he was re-arraigned before Justice C.J. Aneke by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Justice Aneke made the order following an application by Fayose’s lawyer, Mr Ola Olanipekun (SAN).
The ex-governor is being prosecuted for an alleged fraud of N2.2bn.
“I hereby grant the defendant’s application for a temporary release of his passport to enable him to undertake a medical trip abroad.
“The defendant shall return the passport to the court on or before the 16th of September, 2019,” the judge held.
Fayose had deposited his passport with the court as part of the conditions attached to his bail.
Fayose, whose trial started in October last year, was arraigned afresh following the withdrawal of the case from Justice Mojisola Olatoregun before whom Fayose and a firm, Spotless Limited, were first arraigned on October 22, 2018.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati, transferred the case from Justice Olatoregun following an allegation of bias against her by the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu.
Magu based his application for a change of judge on the altercation between Justice Olatoregun and the prosecuting counsel for the anti-corruption body, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), during the March 20, 2019 proceedings.
At the said proceedings, the judge had lambasted Jacobs for “reviewing my ruling”, saying the SAN was engaging in “Jankara (shady) practice.”
But Jacobs, who repeatedly denied reviewing the judge’s ruling, said he was not a “Jankara” lawyer, adding in all his years of practice, from the high court to the Supreme Court, he had never been so labelled.
Before the case was withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun in June, the prosecution had already called 13 out of the 22 witnesses it assembled to testify against Fayose.
Among the witnesses were a former Minister of State for Defence, Mr Musiliu Obanikoro, and three Lebanese — Goshen Joseph, Mitchel Joseph and Mitchel Maroon — who are working in Nigeria as building contractors.
At the resumed proceedings on Tuesday, the 11 counts, bordering on criminal breach of trust, theft and money laundering, were read to Fayose and Spotless Limited again.
They pleaded not guilty as before.
Justice Aneke permitted Fayose to continue on the bail granted him earlier by Justice Olatoregun.
He adjourned till September 16, 2019 for the trial to start afresh.