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.
Usman said doctors at the National Hospital recommended that she should receive further treatment abroad after suffering a relapse following a surgery.
The application, however, could not be heard because the judge ruled that he would first consider a pending application challenging the court’s jurisdiction.
Usman was arraigned last year alongside former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Also arraigned with them were a former National Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) and ex-Chairman of Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Mr. Yusuf Danjuma and a company said to belong to him, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited.
They were arraigned on a 17-count charge of laundering about N4.6billion. They pleaded not guilty.
Fani-Kayode, in his pending application, is asking the judge to disqualify himself because he was “worried and terrified” that he would not get a fair hearing from Justice Hassan.
He is asking 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 against him when 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 for medical reasons.
“If she collapses, will this case go on? She has undergone surgery and has 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 applications challenging the court’s jurisdiction.
He said the issue of jurisdiction ought to be determined first before all other applications were 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.
Ruling, Justice Hassan agreed with the prosecution’s submissions. He 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 application challenging the competence of this court to entertain the case,” he said.
The judge then directed the defence to move the pending applications.
But, Fani-Kayode’s lawyer Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN), said EFCC served him with the with the prosecution’s counter-affidavit three days ago.
He said he needed time to reply on points of law.
Justice Hassan adjourned until March 1 for hearing of all pending applications.