Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of a Lagos High Court, in Ikeja, on Thursday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to release the international passports of Mahmud Tukur and Alex Ochonogor.
Mr. Onigbanjo also adjourned till January 30, 2013, to enable Mr. Tukur, son of the Peoples’ Democratic Party chairman, Bamanga Tukur; and Mr. Ochonogor finalize their “out of court settlement” with the EFCC.
The accused, and Abdullahi Alao, son of billionaire businessman, Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao, are facing a nine count charge of fuel subsidy fraud amounting to N1.2 billion.
“Their passports should be released to enable them attend scheduled business meetings between 17th December and 19th January in the U.K. and France,” the judge said in his ruling.
“They must return the passports on or before January 25, 2013,” he added.
The defendants had earlier requested for a permanent release of their passports to avoid “disturbing” the commission whenever they want to travel out of the country.
The judge turned down the request.
The ongoing negotiation between the suspected fraudsters and the EFCC stalled trial, for the second time, as both parties said that they are yet to come to a conclusion.
The anti graft commission did not oppose the defendants’ request for adjournment.
Last August, the suspects had approached another judge, Lateefat Folami, to request for the release of their passports but were turned down