The trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, for an alleged fraud of N4.9bn was stalled on Wednesday due to his absence from the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Counsel for the ex-minister, Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN), told the court that his client was unable to make it to court as he had been hospitalised for a heart disease.
While praying the court to grant him an adjournment, Quakers promised to furnish the court with a medical report to back Fani-Kayode’s claim of ill health.
The adjournment prayer was not opposed by the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo.
But the prosecutor urged the presiding judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, to observe the provision of Section 396(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, which stipulated that no party, in a criminal case, could have more than five adjournments.
Oyedepo noted that already, the case had been adjourned twice at Fani-Kayode’s instance.
After hearing the parties out, Justice Aikawa adjourned the case till February 28 and March 1 and 2, 2018.
The EFCC arraigned Fani-Kayode on 17 counts of money laundering alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman, who was listed as the first defendant in the charge.
The third and fourth defendants in the case are one Danjuma Yusuf and a company, Joint Trust Dimensions Limited.
The charges border on alleged conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering.
Fani-Kayode, who was the Director of Publicity of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign organisation for the 2015 election, was accused of conspiring with the others to, directly and indirectly, retain various sums, which the EFCC claimed they ought to have reasonably known were proceeds of crime.
In one of the counts, the defendants were accused of conspiring among themselves to “indirectly retain the sum of N1,500, 000,000.00 which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing.”
The four were also accused of indirectly retaining N300m, N400m and N800m, all proceeds of corruption, according to EFCC.
Fani-Kayode was accused of directly using parts of the money at various times, including a N250,650,000.00, which he allegedly used between March 20 and 25, 2015.
Fani-Kayode was also accused of making a cash transaction of N24m with one Olubode Oke, said to still be at large, on February 12, 2015 “to Paste Poster Co of 125, Lewis Street, Lagos Island.”
The duo were said to have made the transaction without going through any financial institution, an act the EFCC claimed was contrary to sections 1(a) and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
But the defendants pleaded not guilty.