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Appeal Court Releases Iboriís Passports

Posted by From George Oji in Kaduna and Funso Muraina in Abuja on 2008/07/19 | Views: 2137 |

Appeal Court Releases Iboriís Passports

The Kaduna Division of the Court of Appeal has ordered the release of the diplomatic and international passports of former Delta State governor, James Ibori, to enable him travel abroad to see to his health and other personal matters.

The Kaduna Division of the Court of Appeal has ordered the release of the diplomatic and international passports of former Delta State governor, James Ibori, to enable him travel abroad to see to his health and other personal matters.
In the same vein, former Jigawa state Governor, Alhaji Saminu Turaki, yesterday got one month reprieve to travel abroad for the treatment of his heart problems.
In a majority ruling delivered yesterday by Justice Amina Augie and Justices Baba Alkali BaŐaba and Massoud Oredola, the learned trial Justice however made a consequential order that Ibori should report to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Appellate Court every eight weeks starting from Monday July 21 until his appeal pending before the Court is finally determined.
Ibori's two passports are currently in the custody of the Federal High Court Kaduna as part of the former governor's bail condition of February 11, 2008.
Ibori and five other persons are facing a 129-count charge of alleged stealing and money laundering.
However ruling on an application for the release of the said passports dated May 15, 2008, the Federal High Court presided over by Mr. Justice Mohammed Lawal Shuaibu had on June 17, refused the release of the passports to Ibori on the grounds that the former governor did not show sufficient and cogent reasons why the request should be granted.
This development prompted Ibori to approach the Court of Appeal for intervention. While ordering the release of Ibori's passports yesterday, Justice Augie held that the former governor is a Nigerian and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty, which is a right guaranteed to him by the 1999 Constitution.
She described most of the arguments for and against the release of the passports by counsels on both sides as distractive and of no use to the Court in the determination of the issue, which she said is simply for an order releasing the applicant's passports, noting that, "For instance, what has the issue of the applicant's wife standing trial in London got to do with the application before us?"
"What has the possibility of the Metropolitan Police arresting him in London got to do with the Application? Possibility equals speculation and Courts certainly do not entertain or act on speculations, only facts", she argued.
According to Her Lordship, "The scenario painted by the 1st Respondent is better appreciated if the applicant was still in prison custody, but he is not; he was admitted to bail on the 11th of February 2008 and has since been "treading the Nigerian soil and breathing the Nigerian air as free as any innocent man."
"If we buy into the 1st respondent's argument, it would mean that an accused person, who is on bail and presumed innocent, is still confined to the prison of Nigeria. He would then bear the tag and toga of a criminal, who should never leave the country for fear that he would be arrested in another country".
"How preposterous; the applicant is already on bail and merely wants his passports released to him so that he can travel and see to his health and other personal matters and I do not see why he should be denied".
"He has an appeal pending in this Court and as the applicant rightly submitted, this gives us the jurisdiction to grant the application or not. In this case, the application will be granted".
Meanwhile, Ibori"s main appeal challenging his trial before the Federal High Court Kaduna comes up on September 17, 2008.
Turaki was given one month by the Federal High Court in Abuja to treat his heart disease in Singapore.
Within the period allowed he can also travel to Saudi Arabia to perform his religious obligation which he earlier complained he could not do because of the restriction placed on his movement. Saminu can also attend a conference in Malaysia .
Justice Mohammed Garba Umar while granting the reprieve ordered that the former governor must return to the country at the expiration of the one month leave granted him.
Delivering ruling in the third motion for request to travel abroad for medical attention, Justice Umar ordered the deputy Chief Registrar of the court to release the International passport of Turaki to him and which must be returned to the court immediately on arrival from the foreign trip.
The take-off for the trip may however not be easy for the former governor as the court attached stringent conditions to the one month leave.
Among others, the judge ordered that all his four sureties must come to the court to sign undertaking that Turaki will not vanish and that if he runs away, the sureties would be detained until his re-arrest or in the alternative be prepared to face prosecution in place of the accused.

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