On Tuesday, a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered that former aviation minister Femi Fani-Kayode had complied with its order directing him to pay N200,000 for failing to appear to answer charges bordering on money laundering.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged Fani-Kayode alongside former finance minister Nenandi Usman, also charged is Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), and a company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Ltd.
EFCC preferred a 17-count charge of N4.6billion money laundering against them in the case that was initially handled by Justice Mohammed Aikawa.
They had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bails.
Trial had begun before Justice Aikawa and witnesses were still being led in evidence, but Aikawa was transferred out of the Lagos division.
The case was consequently assigned to a new Judge, Justice Daniel Osaigor, and the defendants were scheduled for re-arraignment on Oct. 13.
Recalls that on Oct. 13, Fani-Kayode was absent from court and sent a letter informing the court that he was indisposed.
The Judge, however, noted that from the court’s record, the defendant had been absent on a similar excuse five consecutive times, and issued an order directing him to be present on Tuesday.
In addition, the court had imposed a cost of N200,000 on the defendant which the Judge said must be paid before the next adjourned date (today).
When the case was called on Tuesday, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo announced an appearance for the prosecution, Mr Norrison Quakers (SAN), appeared for the second defendant (Fani-Kayode) while Mr Clement Onwuenwunor appeared for the third and fourth defendants.
Quakers first informed the court that he received a letter of excuse from the first defense counsel, Chief Ferdinard Orbih (SAN), who is unavoidably absent.
He said that the first defense counsel had also detailed brother silk to stand in for him, but added that the learned silk was engaged at the Supreme Court in Abuja
He urged the court to grant an adjournment as the first defense counsel had indicated an intention to be personally present during arraignment and consequent trial.
He informed the court that the orders of the court directing payment of N200,000 cost by the second defendant had been fully complied with.
He also informed the court that an affidavit of compliance is also before the court. In response to the prayer for adjournment by the first defense counsel, the prosecutor confirmed to the court that he had received a call from the defense counsel.
He said that Orbih had informed him of the reason for his absence, adding that he was not opposed to the application for adjournment.
Following agreement of all parties, the case was consequently adjourned until Jan. 24 for re-arraignment and trial of the defendants in the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offenses between January and March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.
In counts eight to 14, the defendants were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
Meanwhile, in counts 15 to17, Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke, who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million, in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
Besides, Fani-Kayode was alleged to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
All offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money laundering (prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
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