The trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, before a Federal High Court in Lagos was stalled on Monday following his remand at the Kuje prisons in Abuja and his inability to fulfill his bail conditions.
Fani-Kayode, who was also former Director of Media and Publicity, campaign committee of ex President Goodluck Jonathan, is charged alongside a former Minister of Finance, Nenandi Usman, and Danjuma Yusuf.
They are charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on 17 counts bordering on the offence and had all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, Wale Balogun informed the court that his client is still languishing in kuje prisons.
He said “my lord, I recall that on Oct. 21, after the court had risen, my client was arrested within the court’s premises; I requested for an arrest warrant from the leader who informed me that there was non and added that the order was “from above”
“Fani-Kayode was taken to the EFCC Lagos and kept there till 5pm when another other order came from “above” to move him to abuja immediately. He was kept in custody of the prosecution for 21 days without any word, and finally, arraigned on November 10 before your learned brother Justice John Tsoho in Abuja, on a five count charge bordering on a N26 million sum. He was subsequently remanded at the Kuje prisons, and in view of this, we are helpless, as his bail conditions have not been perfected inspite of frantic efforts by family and friends.”
Responding, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that he was aware of the arraignment of the second accused, but added that his arraignment before the Abuja division of the court, had nothing to do with the instant case.
He maintained that the subsequent arrest of the accused was with a view to serving him with the charge and not to disrespect the court.
He, therefore, urged the court to grant an adjournment so as to allow the accused appear and stand trial.
Meanwhile, the first defendant in the suit, former minister of finance, Nenandi Usman prayed the court to severe her trial from that of Fani-Kayode and others.
Speaking through her counsel, F.O Orbih (SAN) the former minister also urged the court to transfer her trial to Abuja division of the court.
Orbih said that his application was predicated on the basis of logistics and bearing in mind that the offence was committed in Abuja.
He, therefore, prayed for a long date to enable parties tidy their processes, and also, to ensure that the presence of the second accused is secured for the applications to be argued.
In a short ruling, the trial judge, Justice Muslim Hassan held he would refrain from making any comment in relation to the arrest of the Fani-Kayode within the court’s premises, inspite of being granted bail.
He however adjourned the December 12, for hearing.
The accused persons 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 accused were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
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.