Fresh facts emerged Wednesday that the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, may have stood as surety for his son, Mahmud, to travel abroad despite repeated explanations by Tukur that he would not interfere in his son’s trial.
Mahmud is among the suspects who were recently arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly defrauding the Federal Government of billions of naira in the fuel subsidy scam.
There had been pressure for the PDP national chairman to resign his position, following the arraignment of his son and others suspects but he had assured those calling for him to step down that he will not interfere in his son’s trial since he was old enough to defend himself.
However, indication that Tukur may have had a rethink emerged Wednesday, when some directors of OM&Ts, who recently regained their freedom after meeting their bail terms, approached an Ikeja High Court, seeking the permission of the court to travel abroad.
Those who applied for the release of their international passports to enable them travel abroad alongside Tukur’s son are Abdullahi Alao, son of the prominent businessman, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arikesola-Alao, and Mr. Felix Ochonogor.
The three defendants were in July arraigned before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo by the EFCC. Their offences bordered on conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.
In their motion on notice dated August 14, 2012 before a vacation judge, Justice Lateefat Folami, Tukur, Ochonogor and Alao through their counsel, Olaniran Obele, said they needed to travel to Paris and London for business transactions.
Specifically, Tukur, the first applicant, is asking the court to grant him permission to travel abroad to attend a board and committee meetings of which he is a director and also to perform the hajj.
Ochonogor, who is the second applicant also wants to travel to Paris to attend a bond holder meeting, which should have been held last month but was rescheduled to August 27 to enable him attend and explain his present situation before the board.
According to their counsel, the applicants tendered three exhibits comprising Notices of Meetings which they intend to attend both in London and Paris.
Obele told the court that the applicants will not abscond should their applications be granted, adding 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.
Opposing the application, EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that Justice Onigbanjo’s order asking the applicants to drop their International Passport has not been reviewed.
He said there was nothing in the exhibits tendered by the applicants that showed or suggested that the meetings they want to attend was rescheduled.
According to him, granting the applicants permission to travel could open escape route as was experienced in the Jame Ibori’s case.
He, therefore, urged the court not to grant them permission to travel. After listening to arguments, Justice Folami adjourned the case to tomorrow for ruling.