A serving Senator accused of sponsoring the Boko Haram Islamic sect, Senator Aliyu Ndume, was on Tuesday granted permission by an Abuja Federal High Court to travel to Saudi Arabia for the Lesser Hajj.
The court, presided by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, ordered the release of the Senator’s passport to enable him to travel between August 1 and 31, 2012.
However, Kolawole ordered that Ndume must upon his return to the country, on or before August 31, 2012, re-submit his passport to the court within 72 hours.
The court granted the Senator leave to travel outside the shores of the country while ruling on an application in which he sought permission to undertake the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.
In the application, Ndume had also said he intended to undergo a check-up in Saudi Arabia.
But the court frowned on the Senator’s plea that the trip would enable him to attend to his health.
Kolawole noted that Ndume’s application would have been refused, had it been based solely on the need to travel for check-up.
“There is no evidence to indicate that the ailment cannot be treated locally. There is no medical report to show referral to a foreign hospital,” he said.
The judge did not agree with the prosecution’s argument that a permission to travel abroad would enable the Senator to jump bail and escape trial.
He also faulted the prosecution’s argument that the application should be refused as Ndume could always undertake the pilgrimage after the trial.
Noting that the offence for which the Senator was facing trial could attract a prison term of up to 20 years, the judge noted that, in case the accused person was eventually convicted, “I don’t know of any prison sentence that can allow a prisoner travel for pilgrimage.”
The matter was adjourned to October 24, 2012 for continuation of trial.