Nigeria Court Grants Rochas Okorocha’s Appeal To Seek Medical Attention In United States

Embattled Senator Rochas Okorocha seated in a court room

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, granted an application filed by former Imo State governor and serving Senator Rochas Okorocha, seeking an order granting him leave to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, while granting the order after Okorocha’s counsel, Ola Olanipekun, SAN, moved the motion to the effect, however warned the lawmaker against failure to appear in the next adjourned date.

Okorocha, who represents Imo West Senatorial District, had, on Thursday, approached the court with the motion. Okorocha had, through his lawyer, Daniel Alumun, made this known when the matter came up before Justice Ekwo.

Alumun, however, informed the court, shortly when the case was called, that he was unable to serve the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the complainant/respondent, with the motion. Justice Ekwo consequently adjourned the matter until today for hearing of the motion.

Upon resumed hearing, Okorocha’s counsel, Olanipekun, told the court that he had a motion on notice marked: FHC /ABJ/CS/28/2022 dated June 22 and filed June 27. The lawyer said the motion sought for an order granting the applicant (Okorocha) leave to travel outside Nigeria for medical treatment; and return before November 7, being the next adjourned date for his trial.

But the EFCC’s lawyer, Chile Okoroma, who is also the Director of Legal Services for the EFCC, opposed the request. He explained how the applicant flouted the earlier administrative bail granted him by the anti-corruption agency. He said he took the agency about six months after the matter was filed to bring the applicant before the court.

Okoroma, who said Okorocha is a flight-risk, said if allowed to travel abroad, the lawmaker would jump bail. The judge, however, said that since Okorocha had appeared in court, arraigned and the trial commenced, everyone should look forward to the future development.

“I am going to grant this application. But if I grant this application and the defendant fails to appear in the next adjourned date, I will make an order declaring him wanted,” the judge said.

Okoroma, who said he was satisfied with Justice Ekwo’s intervention, withdrew all his initial grounds for opposing the application. Ruling, Justice Ekwo said that he was of the opinion that the application be granted because it was on medical grounds.

He held that this would afford the applicant the opportunity to stand his trial. “Upon perusing the prayers sought by the applicant and the averments in the counter affidavit of the respondent, I am of the opinion that this application be granted because it is of medical grounds.

“Prayers 1, 2, 3 and 4 are hereby granted as prayed,” he said. He ordered Okorocha to return his travel documents to the court registry not later than three days upon his return. There shall be consequency if the 1st defendant (Okorocha) fails to appear in the next adjotrned date,” Ekwo ruled.

The judge adjourned the matter until November 7, November 8, November 9, November 10 and November 11 for trial continuation.

Okorocha through his legal team also sought a consequential order for the release of his Nigerian international travel passport booklet, which was deposited with the court registrar in partial fulfillment of the conditions for bail granted to him. He further sought for “a consequential order that reliefs (1} and (2) above be communicated by the registrar of this honourable court to the Nigerian Immigration Service, to facilitate the passage of the applicant.

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