N9m Dud Cheque: Court Dismisses Polish Woman’s Application To Retrieve Passport

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Justice Abubakar Umar of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday November 20, 2012, dismissed two applications filed by Dora Gilmaska, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a one count charge bordering on the issuance of dud cheque to the tune of Nine Million Naira.

Gilmaska, a polish national, was arraigned on Monday, October 8, 2012 and granted bail in the sum of N5million with other stringent conditions which included the seizure of her international passport. But she approached the court subsequently to have her passport released to her to enable her renew it and also for her travel abroad for medical treatment.

But the prosecution counsel, Mr. Samuel Ugwuegbulam had opposed the application as he argued that the defence has not placed sufficient material before court to justify the request for the release of the passport.
Ugwuegbulam further averred that the deponent to the supporting affidavit to the application is not a medical doctor and therefore incompetent to make the averment.
“My Lord, this is an abuse of section 115, sub-section 3 of the evidence Act, 2011, considering the fact that no referral letter certified by a medical expert from a Government owned and recognized hospital indicating that the accused person has been referred to any hospital outside the shores of Nigeria is attached to the application”, he had said.

In his ruling on November 20, 2012, Justice Umar dismissed the application for lacking in merit.  He said the claim from Exhibit “B” and “C” which are letters from Nisa Premier Hospital and Maitama Hospital respectively, that there are no facilities in Abuja to take care of the accused medical need is immaterial as the accused who is undergoing criminal trial bordering on the issuance of dud cheque to the tune of Nine Million Naira had no such luxury as to choose and pick which medical institution she will use more so that the accused has not proved that there are no alternatives outside Abuja.

The Judge, while agreeing with the position of the prosecution counsel, further said that given the length of time since the letter from the hospital was written, there was nothing to show urgency in the accused person’s health as she has not made any effort to be treated and/or placed any evidence before the court to show that she has made such effort.

He also said the defence counsel’s claim for the release of the passport for renewal was unsubstantiated since the accused was a Polish citizen and therefore could get a renewal at any point in time.

The judge who assured the parties of accelerated hearing adjourned to December 6 and 7th, 2012, for commencement of trial.


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