A former Minister of State for Finance, Senator Nenadi Usman, has asked Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos to permit her to travel abroad to receive treatment for breast cancer.
She said doctors at the National Hospital recommended that she receives further treatment abroad after suffering a relapse after a surgery.
Her application, however, could not be heard because the judge ruled he would first consider a pending application challenging the court’s jurisdiction.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Usman with former Minister of Aviation Chief Femi Fani-Kayode.
They were charged with former National Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) and ex-Chairman of Kagarko Local Government of Kaduna State, Mr. Yusuf Danjuma and a company said to belong to him, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited.
EFCC arraigned them on a 17-count charge of laundering about N4.6billion. They pleaded not guilty.
Fani-Kayode, in his pending application, asked the judge to withdraw from the case because he was “worried and terrified” he would not get a fair hearing from Justice Hassan.
He asked the judge to decline jurisdiction and transfer the case to the court’s Abuja division, adding that Justice Hassan, who worked as a prosecutor at the Federal Ministry of Justice and later seconded to the EFCC, signed the charge for which he was previously tried and acquitted by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumobia for money laundering
Usman, in her applications, is praying the court to allow her to be tried separately from Fani-Kayode and for her trial to be transferred from Lagos to Abuja for convenience.
Yesterday, Usman’s lawyer Mr. Abiodun Owonikowo (SAN) prayed the court to consider the former minister’s application to travel abroad for medical reasons.
According to him, since it was a matter of life and death, the judge could hear it before other applications.
Besides, he said the judge, having granted the former minister of state bail, was allowed by law to vary the bail terms, including permitting her to travel abroad.
“If she collapses here now, will this case go on? She has undergone surgery and has had a relapse. Doctors at the National Hospital have recommended that she needs to get urgent medical treatment abroad.
“This is a matter as serious as breast cancer. We are all humans and can fall sick,” he said.
But, EFCC’s lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo, said Usman’s application for leave to travel cannot be heard when there were pending applications challenging the court’s jurisdiction.
He said the issue of jurisdiction ought to be determined first before all other applications could be heard.
“If they want this application (for leave to travel) to be heard, then they should withdraw the application challenging the court’s jurisdiction,” he said.
Justice Hassan held that since the defendants have applications on jurisdiction with regards to where they should be tried, as well as on fair hearing, those applications ought to be determined first.
“The law is clear. The court is obliged to determine the issue of jurisdiction first. I am inclined to take the applications challenging the competence of this court to entertain the case first,” he said.
The judge directed the defence to move the pending applications.
But, Fani-Kayode’s lawyer Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN) said EFCC served him with the prosecution’s counter-affidavit three days ago.
He said he needed time to reply on points of law.
Justice Hassan adjourned till March 1 for hearing in all pending applications.