Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, has adjourned to December 21, 2018 for ruling on the authenticity or otherwise, of a medical report brought before the Court by a Chinese national, Li Ya Ping, who is seeking to travel out of Nigeria for medicals.
Ping is standing trial for a $300,000 (Three Hundred Thousand Dollars) money laundering charge after he was arrested at the International Airport for failing to declare the said sum of money in his possession, as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai.
His counsel, Patrick Ikwueto, had at a previous sitting, filed for a motion requesting for the withdrawal of an earlier application dated July 31, 2018 and filed on August 6, 2018 which sought for an order of the court in respect to the release of the defendant’s international passport, to enable him travel to China, for medical treatment. Annexed to the motion, was a medical report from Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Jabi.
However another application, dated August 16, 2018, brought before the Court, sought the withdrawal of the first motion, while consequently the third motion, dated August 20, 2018, continued in the pursuit of the release of the Chinese National’s International Passport to enable him travel to China for three weeks on medical grounds.
The judge said for the records that he will give both parties a fair level playing ground in a bid to entertain arguments from both counsels.
At the resumed hearing today, December 17, 2018, Defence counsel, Ikwueto, prayed the court to grant the defendant’s application for medical treatment for a period before the next adjourned date stressing that his client will return the international passport which had been tendered as evidence in the course of the trial.
Prosecution counsel, Gbolahan Latona raised no objections to the withdrawal of the first motion just as the judge struck out the application.
Following the defence, Ikwueto argued that the defendant was currently on bail after his arraignment in court and had at no time defaulted.
According to him, “Provisions of Section 330 and 331 in respect of the international passport lay claim that the passport is merely an exhibit tendered before the court and it is in custody of this honourable court”.
Ikwueto added: “In dealing with custody and disposal of properties subject matter to criminal case such as this, the exhibit in my lord’s custody, which is the international passport, is entirely within my lord’s discretion, please I urge my lord to release the passport for the defendant so he can carry out the necessary medical checkup.”
In response, Latona referring to Paragraph 21-24 of the application argued that there was no supporting documentation.
He said: “For instance, there is no medical request from the hospital in China, but only a referral on the instruction of the defendant from Nisa Premier Hospital. It is a cocktail of lies and half-truths made to deceive this honourable court. The law is that affidavit evidence is not sacrosanct, but it is subject to the court to determine its versatility.
“I invite your lordship to the observations made in reference to Paragraph 8-10 showing no evidence of medical report to support this application previously.
“The defendant had never at any point in time visited the hospital in China for these alleged ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure and the said ailments can be treated here in Abuja.
“While in the custody of EFCC, the defendant was medically evaluated and does not have any medical conditions warranting for him to travel for some fictitious medical checkup.
“The defendant had concealed, misrepresented and manipulated this court earlier with the forged medical report. The hospital has sent in a disclaimer signed by Dr O. Adamu, the Medical Director of Nisa Premier stating that they never referred the defendant to the Chinese People Hospital, but rather they wrote the referral contained in Exhibit DA-1, on the request of the defendant.
“The issue is whether the defendant has placed credible material before this court to warrant your Lordship to grant the release of his international passport, noting that the international passport is the principal object of this case, it serves as an entry or exit for the defendant and it is instrumental to the proceeding of this case.”
The judge after listening to all the arguments, adjourned to December 21, 2018, for ruling on the application.
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity
17th December 2018