The court refused a plea to give a prolonged adjournment.
The trial of Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Aviation Minister, ended abruptly on Monday as the prosecution failed to provide relevant bank statements of the defendant.
Mr. Fani-Kayode is facing a 40-count charge of money laundering instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The defendant allegedly committed the offence while serving as Minister for Culture and Tourism and then Aviation Minister.
The trial began on Monday with the prosecution’s first witness, Okechukwu Okeke, testifying before the court.
Mr. Okeke, a Relationship Officer with First City Monument Bank, FCMB, said that Mr. Fani-Kayode’s account at the bank had been dormant.
“The account was first with First Atlantic Bank before it was acquired by Finbank which was also acquired by FCMB,” said Mr. Okeke.
Festus Keyamo, the prosecution counsel, tendered Mr. Fani-Kayode’s bank statement of account between August 2008 and September 2012.
But the inability to provide the statement between 2004 and 2008, the period during which Mr. Fani-Kayode served as minister ended the trial abruptly.
“We had written to the IT department of the bank after the last sitting when the court fixed trial dates. They generated the one we tendered before the court. They said we should give them one week,” said Mr. Keyamo.
Efforts by Ifedayo Adedipe, the defence lawyer, to secure a long adjournment for continuation of the trial were rebuffed by the judge who insisted that the trial had dragged on for too long.
Mr. Fani-Kayode was first arraigned in 2008 and since then, three judges have overseen the trial.
Mr. Keyamo blamed the delay on the defence’s “frequent objections,” one of which was argued up to the Supreme Court.
“Our witnesses are scattered all over the country,” Mr. Keyamo added.
Earlier, the defence had objected to the prosecution’s witness taking to the stand, arguing that they were yet to cross examine a previous witness.
Last year, the trial was halted in the middle of a prosecution witness’s testimony after the defence raised an objection, arguing that the fiat from the Attorney-General of the Federation was specifically meant for Mr. Keyamo and not his representative.
Vitalis Ahaotu, a lawyer from Mr. Keyamo’s Chamber had been leading the prosecution.
“He cannot call a new witness unless he makes a formal application to have the last proceedings set aside by an order of court,” Mr. Adedipe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said on Monday.
Mr. Keyamo moved an application to have the testimonies from the previous witness to be declared “null and void,” and the judge granted it.
“The issue of prosecutorial power is so profound. They will raise this issue on appeal. I also apply that the exhibits tendered be struck out,” Mr. Keyamo added.
Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, the trial judge, adjourned till March 18th and 19th for continuation of trial.
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