Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode has been asked to pay a N200,000 fine by a Federal High Court in Lagos, for not making himself available for re-arraignment for alleged money laundering.
Justice Daniel Osaigor issued the order on Wednesday October 13, stating that having gone through the court’s file, he found five different letters from the former Minister seeking adjournment on same medical grounds. FFK was directed to pay the sum or risk revocation of his bail.
Fani-Kayode; a former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Nenadi Esther Usman; one Danjuma Yusuf, a former chairman of ALGON; and a limited liability company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd are jointly being arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 17-count charge of N4.6 billion money laundering.
Though they were first arraigned before Justice Mohammed Aikawa, the case was consequently assigned to Osaigor and the defendants scheduled for re-arraignment on Wednesday October 13.
When the case was called on Wednesday, Mr I.J. Ogechukwu appeared for the first defendant (Usman), Mr B.F. Ajudua appeared for the second defendant (Fani-Kayode) and Y. Olabode appeared for the third and fourth defendants.
The prosecutor, Mrs. Bilikisu Buhari informed the court that the matter was to start afresh, but Fani-Kayode, who is the second defendant, was not in court to take his plea. The prosecutor therefore urged the court to revoke the former Minister’s bail.
Buhari informed the court that on July 15, prosecution asked the court to adjourn the matter for re-arraignment of the defendants. She told the court that on October 11, prosecution received a letter from the second defendant informing them that he had been given bed rest.
Buhari told the court that letters by the second defendant had become numerous and it was all written to avoid attending court sittings.
Fani-Kayode’s counsel, F. B. Ajudua however pleaded with the court not to revoke his bail, saying that a letter has been written on behalf of his client who he claimed is currently on ‘bed rest’, at Kubwa General Hospital, Abuja.
Ajudua also told the court that the second defendant has been readily attending his trial since the matter commenced in 2016. He apologised for Fani-Kayode’s absence, begged the court not to revoke his bail, and also asked for a short adjournment.
But the trial judge upon perusing the court’s records, discovered that the former Minister had been absent from court for five times, a development which the judge said has stalled the smooth hearing of the charge. He mentioned the dates the letters were written as Feb. 1, 2018, May 30, 2019, Nov. 24, 2020, March 21, 2021 and Oct. 9, 2021.
Justice Osiagor therefore gave two options of either to revoke his bail or a fine of N200, 000, and his counsel opted for fine option.
The matter has been adjourned till November 30 and the fine must be paid before the next court sitting.