A Lagos court barred Festus Keyamo from handling the case on behalf of the Attorney General.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has written to the Federal High Court saying Festus Keyamo Chambers has its instruction to prosecute Femi Fani-Kayode, the former Aviation minister, on its behalf.
But in a swift reaction, Mr. Fani-Kayode, speaking through one of his lawyers, Tajudeen Onipede, said “the claim is not only untrue but misleading.”
The former minister’s trial suffered a setback after Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia barred Mr. Keyamo’s Chambers, Tuesday, from continuing the prosecution after it failed to present the fiat empowering it to handle the case on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF.
The EFCC is accusing Mr. Fani-Kayode of laundering about N230 million in 2008, while in office.
“There is a doubt as to the existence yet of the fiat by the Attorney-General of the Federation to prosecute the accused for the alleged money laundering charges,” Ms. Ofili-Ajumogobia had said.
“Mr. Vitalis Ahaotu has submitted that Mr. Festus Keyamo has been given the fiat to prosecute the case.
“That fiat has not been tendered in this court, and for this reason Mr. Vitalis Ahaotu cannot continue to represent the Federal Republic of Nigeria in this case,” she had added.
The judge also ordered the court’s Deputy Chief Registrar to write, within three days, to Mohammed Adoke, the AGF, for him to “settle the appearance of the complainant” in the case.
While the judge halted the case until a fiat from the federal government is provided, she declined a request by Mr. Fani-Kayode to strike out the charges against him.
But in a letter on Thursday addressed to the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, Lagos, the EFCC stated that Mr. Keyamo had been prosecuting cases on its behalf since 2008.
“They (Keyamo’s chambers) have since diligently prosecuted the matter up to Supreme Court and back to the Federal High Court.
“We hope this will clear any doubt as to the authority of the firm to prosecute this matter,” read the letter signed by Chile Okoroma, Acting Director, Legal & Prosecution Department of the EFCC.”
But in a telephone interview with one of our reporters, the former minister’s lawyer, Tajudeen Onipede said “Keyamo cannot prosecute a case on behalf of the EFCC unless there is a fiat from the attorney generation of the federation.”
He said, “What the court is asking for is the fiat given to the EFCC by the AGF to prosecute. Nobody is talking about Keyamo working for the EFCC or not.
“By Nigerian law, the EFCC can only prosecute on behalf of the attorney general after getting a fiat (permission) from his office to do so. If the EFCC has no such a fiat, what fiat did it now pass to Keyamo? They are only trying to mislead the public and everybody should be weary.”
The judge had adjourned the case till July 8 for Mr. Ahaotu, representing Mr. Keyamo’s law firm in the trial, to provide the fiat.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with a reaction by Mr. Fani-Kayode’s lawyer.