A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday gave former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s son-in-law, Abdullahi Babalele, 31 days to travel abroad for medical treatment.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke directed the court registrar to release Babalele’s passport to him to enable him undertake the trip.
The judge held that the defendant’s October 8, 2019 application, which was opposed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was meritorious.
EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, had argued last Tuesday that Babalele’s medical reports showed “no issue of trauma, diabetes, high blood pressure or otherwise,” as claimed by the defence.
But in his ruling on Friday, Justice Aneke ruled that the defendant had shown that “he has health issues with the evidence before the court….Only the living can stand trial.”
He ordered Babalele to return the passport on November 11, 2019 and adjourned till November 11,12 and 13 for the commencement of trial.
The defendant is being prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly laundering $140,000 in the build-up to the last general elections.
According to the EFCC, Babalele persuaded one Bashir Mohammed, a Bureau De Change (BDC) operator, to make a cash payment of the sum of $140,000 without going through any financial institution, an offence contrary to Section 18(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
Atiku, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lost to the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The anti-graft agency charged Babalele with the offence on August 14, 2019, before Justice Nicholas Oweibo.
But the case was re-assigned and transferred to Justice C.J. Aneke.
Babalele was re-arraigned before the new judge last Tuesday.
He pleaded not guilty.
His counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, successfully persuaded the court to permit Babalele to continue on the N20m bail with one surety earlier granted him in August by Justice Oweibo.