29 November 2008

Nigeria: Boni Haruna Granted Leave to Travel Abroad

Abuja — An Abuja Federal High Court yesterday granted leave to the former governor of Adamawa State, Boni Haruna and his former special assistant, Mohammed Inuwa, to travel abroad for medical treatment.

While the former governor applied to the court to release his passport seized when he was arraigned, in order for him travel to the United States for medical attention, his former aide prayed the court to release his passport for him to travel to India for medical surgery.

Ruling on both applications, Justice Adamu Bello who granted their pleas noted that the court had in the recent past granted similar applications and that the applicants fulfilled the requirements as it relates with documentary proof justifying their pleas.

He noted that the applicants have been on bail and have been breathing the air of freedom as citizens of Nigeria, and ruled that "the applicants are hereby granted leave to travel abroad as prayed."

Consequently, the court ordered the deputy chief registrar of the court to release the international passports to the accused persons. The court also specified that they return the passports to the deputy chief registrar on their return.

The court then adjourned the matter to February 12, 2009 for the accused persons to take a fresh plea following EFCC's amended charges.

Earlier in the proceedings, the former governor had brought to fore the fact he was dying of a heart disease and may die from the ailment unless he is allowed to go to America to treat the sickness.

Haruna then told the court that his poor heart occasioned by the disease had degenerated over the months, because of his inability to go abroad for regular check up due to the seizure of his traveling passport by the court.

The former governor's drew attention to his heart condition just as the EFCC was preparing another 28-count criminal charge against him.

In the motion filed and argued by his lead counsel Mr. Ricky Tarfa, Haruna who was permitted to sit throughout the court proceedings, informed Justice Bello that the kind of treatment he needed was not available in the country.

However in a vehement opposition to the requests for foreign trips, EFCC described the health claims of the two accused as a ruse and asked Justice Bello to ignore them.

In a counter motion EFCC through its counsel, Mr. Godwin Longs told the judge that there was nothing to justify the request for the trips because the accused persons failed to show that their diseases cannot be treated in the country.

He faulted the depositions of the two accused persons, which were not personally signed by them as demanded by law.

In addition, the EFCC counsel confirmed that another 28-count criminal charge had been prepared against the accused persons and that they would not return to the country if they allowed to proceed on the foreign medical trip.

The EFCC, last August, slammed a 21-count criminal charge against Haruna for allegedly stealing N93.9m while in office as governor of Adamawa State.

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