Court Varies NBA President’s Bail Conditions, Allows Him Travel Abroad

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Paul Usoro
Paul Usoro

Davidson Iriekpen

A Federal High Court in Lagos Wednesday varied the bail conditions it granted to the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro (SAN), by allowing him to freely travel abroad for his foreign engagements.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa ordered the release of Usoro’s International Passport and directed that he should inform the office of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) anytime he would want to travel out of the country.

The judge varied Usoro’s bail conditions following an application by his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN).

Usoro is facing a 10-count charge bordering on fraud.

The charge was preferred by the EFCC.

The anti-graft agency accused Usoro and some others of laundering N1.4 billion belonging to Akwa Ibom State Government.

He, however, pleaded not guilty.

Also named in the charge is Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State, who is described in the charge as being “currently constitutionally immune from prosecution”.

Other defendants are the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, Nsikan Nkan; Accountant-General of Akwa Ibom, Mfon Udomah; the state Attorney-General, Uwemedimo Nwoko, and one Margaret Ukpe.

EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, did not oppose the application to vary the bail conditions but urged the court to order that the defendant should drop his International Passport on arrival from any journey.

He argued that it would be difficult to have the defendant in court if his travel would clash with his trial.

However, Olanipekun assured the court that proceedings would prevail over any Usoro’s overseas travel in the event of a clash.

The judge adjourned the case to May 10 to enable the Attorney-General of Akwa Ibom and the three others to respond to a counter-motion filed by the prosecution.

Counsel to the accountant-general, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said he needed time to respond to EFCC’s counter-motion to his application for vacation of a bench warrant against his client.

He said that he received the counter motion on Monday.

Also, counsel for Akwa Ibom governor, Dr. Charles Mekwunye, submitted that he filed an application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the case.

He said he filed the application on March 3, and received EFCC’s reply on April 15.

Mekwunye said that he was still putting together a response.