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Justice Rilwan Aikawa on Wednesday ordered that the passport of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Paul Usoro (SAN), be released to him to enable him to freely travel abroad for his foreign engagements.
Usoro, who is being prosecuted for allegedly laundering a sum of N1.4bn belonging to Akwa Ibom State, had surrendered his passport to the court as part of the conditions attached to the bail granted him.
On Wednesday, the defence team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), applied that Usoro’s passport be released to him, giving assurance that the defendants would always be available for his trial.
Olanipekun promised that Usoro would schedule his foreign trips not to clash with trial dates.
In response, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, said he would not oppose the application for the release of Usoro’s passport, given the undertaking by Olanipekun that the NBA President would not frustrate the trial.
Oyedepo, however, urged Justice Aikawa to mandate Usoro to notify the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, whenever he wants to travel out of the country.
In his ruling, Justice Aikawa ordered the release of Usoro’s passport and mandated him to ensure that Magu was informed anytime he wants to travel out of the country.
Meanwhile, the trial was stalled on Wednesday due to unresolved pending applications.
In the charges, the EFCC accused Usoro of laundering N1.4bn in connivance with Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State and four other officials of the state.
While the anti-graft agency noted that Emmanuel has immunity from criminal trial, it applied for a warrant to arrest the other state officials.