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Court Grants Accused Air Force Officer Leave To Travel Out
Mohammed Dikko Umar, a former member of the committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the procurement of arms and equipment in the Armed Forces, but who is now facing corruption charges, has been granted leave to travel to South Africa for medical reasons.
Dikko, is accused of money laundering and illegal possession of fire arms and classified information.
Delivering the ruling on Tuesday, Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, however added that the accused person must first sign a bond of N50 million in the name of the court’s Registrar before his travel documents could be released by the court to serve as guarantee that he will not jump bail.
Justice Tsoho said that he was convinced that there was the need for Umar to attend to his health to enable him to be fit to stand trial.
He held that a medical report signed by Bello Abubakar Mohammed, a Senior Consultant in Clinical Oncology at the National Hospital, Abuja, stating that Umar needed medical attention, which is not available in Nigeria and West Africa, was credible and acceptable.
“It is instructive that Exhibit A2 is from the National Hospital, Abuja,which is supposed to be a reputable and prestigious government-owned tertiary health institution in Nigeria. Therefore, a document emanating from it should command some credibility,” Justice Tsoho said.
“In my humble opinion, the exhibit constitutes material evidence of the applicant’s medical condition, requiring urgent medical attention outside Nigeria and West Africa. Paragraph 5 of Exhibit A2 specifically says that investigation and treatment options for the applicant are not available in Nigeria and even in West Africa.”
The trial Judge noted that the prosecution “has not produced any evidence to contradict or discredit” the information provided by the defence team.
Justice Tsoho said: “In the circumstance, I am more disposed to accepting the position presented by the applicant.
“Given the circumstance of this application, I find it apt to endorse the sentiment that it is a healthy person, and indeed, a living person that can stand trial.“I therefore do not see what the respondent stands to gain if the applicant should become medically incapacitated with the result of his trial being truncated.
“Rather than have such a situation, I honestly believe that it is better the applicant gets the opportunity to receive medical attention in the hope that he will be physically and mentally fit to stand trial to the end even though some delay may be experienced.”
He adjourned to May 18 for the commencement of trial, given that the accused person had said he would be staying in South Africa for two years.
Umar was arrested in June 2016 as operatives of the Department of State Security, DSS, raided his home in Abuja.
He and his company are accused of accepting $1,030,000 in cash from a firm, Worldwide Consortium PTY Ltd, “as payment for flight services without going through a financial institution as required by law” thereby contravening sections 18 (a) and 16(1)(d) of the Money Laundering Act 2011.
The retired Air Force Officer, who was a loyalist of President Buhari, was also accused of illegal possession of two pump action guns between June 1,2011 and June 19, 2016 without valid licenses and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 4 of the Firearms Act 2004.
Umar is also said to have been in possession of “classified/official documents without lawful authority and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(b) of the Official Secret Act and punishable under Section 7(1)(a) of the same Act.”