EFCC Chairman, Abdulraheed Bawa
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has warned a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory against granting permission to sick Dr Ngozi Olejeme, a former aide to Goodluck Jonathan, to travel to South Africa and the United States for heart surgery.
The commission described the former Chairman of the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund as a high flight risk who could use the trip to escape justice in the N3bn money laundering charges brought against her by the Federal Government.
In a counter affidavit filed on Monday to oppose the request by Olejeme to travel for medical attention, EFCC, through its counsel, Steve Odiase, informed the court that the health challenges complained by the defendant could easily be treated in some hospitals in Nigeria.
Odiase said the court should be careful because the defendant has always been a high flight risk and that EFCC is in possession of intelligence report that indicates that she will escape trial if allowed to go abroad.
The counsel countered the request by Olejeme for the court to compel EFCC to remove her name and declaration as a wanted person, adding that it is premature for his client to remove such declaration.
Besides, the EFCC counsel objected to admission of documents brought to court by Olejeme to justify her request for foreign medical treatment, adding that being public documents, they ought to have been certified by the defendant.
He cited Sections 89, 104 and 111 of the Evidence Act, adding that no probate value should be attached to the documents and urged the court to refuse the application in the interest of justice.
Olejeme had through her counsel, Chief Paul Erokoro (SAN), asked the court to grant her permission to undergo medical treatment in South Africa and the US.
She also prayed the court to order the release of her passport and another order to compel the withdrawal of a declaration that she is a wanted person.
The senior lawyer said that his client has not only returned to Nigeria but reported herself to EFCC for investigation upon which criminal charges were filed against her.
He further requested for an order to compel EFCC to notify the International Police, Immigration and other relevant authorities that Olejeme is no longer a wanted person.
While moving the application, Erokoro argued that his client needs urgent heart surgery and that the Federal Medical Centre in Abuja had in a letter to the Federal Government confirmed the seriousness of the ailment of his client.
Insisting that the right to life is paramount and that only the living can stand trial, the senior lawyer drew court’s attention to the fact that Olejeme has had surgeries four times and is currently having heart failure.
After taken arguments from the two parties, Justice Maryam Hassan Aliyu fixed December 14 to deliver ruling on whether to grant the request or turn it down.