Worried by the incessant delay in the trial of former Enugu State Governor, Chimaroke Nnamani, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has sought the leave of a Federal High Court in Lagos to separate his trial from that of his co-accused persons.
The EFCC made the application through its counsel, Kevin Uzozie after the court once again granted the former governor leave to travel abroad for medical check up. This is the third time the former governor would be granted permission to travel for treatment.
The commission is prosecuting Nnamani and seven others on a 105 count-charge of allegedly laundering various sums of money to the tune of five billion Naira belonging to the state through secret accounts.
Nnamani and others are also being accused of conspiring to launder various statutory allocations of five Local Government Areas of Enugu State, namely, Aninri, Enugu South, Agwu, Igbo Etiti and Isi Uzor.
The other accused persons are: Sunday Anyaogu, Rainbownet (Nig) Ltd, Hillgate (Nig) Ltd, Cosmos Fm, Capital City Automobile (Nig) Ltd, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School.
The accused persons were arraigned in 2007, but the case has not gone to trial because of various interlocutory applications they filed over the years.
On November 18, the court will hear arguments on the application seeking to separate the trial.
History Of Interlocutory Applications
On April 17, 2013, the trial judge, Justice Yunusa granted an application by the former governor for leave to travel overseas for medical attention.
On May 28, 2013, the judge also granted a further application seeking for extension of time to conclude his medical treatment abroad.
The court then adjourned till September 25, 2013.
On September 25, 2013, the former governor was absent in court, and the judge further adjourned the suit to December 12, 2013.
On December 12, 2013, the trial judge was said to be attending a conference, and the matter was further adjourned to March 5, 2014.
Again on March 5, the trial suffered another setback, as the Counsel to the former governor sought for another adjournment, arguing that the case was slated for mention and not trial.
The judge had accordingly, adjourned the suit to June 17, 2014.
At the last adjourned date on June 17, the trial of the accused was again stalled, due to an application for adjournment by counsel to the former governor.
He had argued that his client was medically unfit to go through the rigours of trial, on the ground that he had just undergone a open heart surgery.
He said the surgery had caused the accused person chronic chest pain, due to his body’s inability to tolerate the pacemaker installed in his heart.
This development again forced the judge to grant another adjournment in favour of the accused person to today, November 3.
Proper Medical Condition
At the resumed hearing of the matter on November 3, 2014, the counsel to the former governor, Ricky Tarfa, once again sought the leave of the court, for his client to be allowed to travel to the United States for medical check up.
According to the lawyer, the position of the law is that an accused person must be in proper medical condition to be able to stand trial. He stated that the condition of the accused person had remained unchanged till date, since he had been in the country, without any medical check abroad.
In his response, the prosecuting counsel, Kelvin Uzozie, pointed out to the court that the criminal matter had lingered on since 2007 without any progress.
Uzozie therefore, informed the court that he had filed an application for the trial of the first accused, to be separated from other accused, so that his health would not always stand as a clog in the criminal trial.
He submitted further that whenever the accused was certified fit to stand trial, he would then be prosecuted.
This application was strongly opposed by the defence counsel who told the court that he had filed a counter affidavit, on the grounds that the trial cannot be separated.
He added that trial could only commence where there are no further applications before the court.
After listening to arguments from both sides, Justice Yunusa granted permission to the former governor again to travel abroad for medical check up.
But the judge fixed November 18 to hear arguments from the two counsel on whether the trial should be separated.