The former director of media and publicity of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 election campaign, Femi Fani-Kayode, was on Friday arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as he emerged from a corruption trial at the Federal High Court, Lagos.
A former aviation minister, Mr. Fani-Kayode was in court for the trial of the alleged diversion and misappropriation of N4.9 billion campaign fund when he was picked up by the anti-graft commission. Others charged alongside the outspoken former minister were ex-finance minister, Nenadi Usman, one Danjuma Yusuf and a company, Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited.
All the accused pleaded not guilty and had been granted bail.
The 17-count suit was adjourned to November 14 after the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, presented the witness evidence for the day.
But as soon as Mr. Fani-Kayode stepped out of the court room, he was accosted and subsequently arrested by two operatives of the EFCC. He was whisked away in a white Toyota Hiace bus.
Interestingly, the opposition politician on Thursday released a statement about a plan by the EFCC to arrest him today at the court premises.
“I have been reliably informed by my sources within the EFCC that they are planning to re-arrest and detain me again for as long as possible even though I have been granted bail by the Federal High Court in Lagos,” he said.
“Fresh charges were filed against me by the EFCC at the Federal High Court in Abuja on July 7. These charges border on baseless and false claims that I received N26 million from the NSA’s office in 2014. These are politically-motivated charges and there is no truth in or substance to them whatsoever.
“The case has been assigned to a judge and the date for arraignment has been set for November 10 before Justice Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja. My lawyers were in court for the original date of arraignment on October 14 but for some curious reasons the EFCC did not show up on that day.
“The matter was therefore adjourned till November 10 and my lawyers have given an undertaking to the judge to ensure that I am in court on that day. They have also written to the EFCC to that effect and our letter was acknowledged by them.
“Yet the EFCC is still planning to arrest me probably at the premises of the Federal High Court in Lagos if I appear there on October 21 to attend my trial on the trumped up and politically-motivated charges concerning the presidential campaign funds.
“If they do arrest me then they seek to detain me for as long as possible. Whichever way, they will come and I am ready for them. I am not running,” he added.
The last few days have been busy for the controversial former aviation minister. On Monday, his wife, Precious, was briefly held by the law enforcement officials after she tried to withdraw money from an Access Bank account flagged by the EFCC in Ado Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State. She was carrying her 8 months baby at the time.
Mr. Fani-Kayode said EFCC gave no prior notice that the account was flagged and promised to sue the commission and Access Bank.
“She (his wife) has never been formally invited by the EFCC or asked any questions about her transactions and neither have they written to her on any issue even though they are always sending letters to my house and sending people there’.
“We intend to sue the bank and to sue the EFCC for this illegal and wicked action. They have no right to do this. If they want to see my wife all they need to do is to invite her. We have nothing to fear. They do not need to be so primitive and barbaric to people”.
I was paid N30 million in cash – witness
Meanwhile, at the hearing of the alleged 4.9 billion fraud suit Friday, the EFCC presented its first witness, Idowu Olusegun, a media consultant with Paste Poster Company Limited. Mr. Olusegun told the court that he received N30 million in cash from the Mr Fani-Kayode. He said he had signed a N24 million media consultancy contract with the Goodluck Jonathan campaign organization.
He said he further negotiated with the organisation to print size A2 flyers for N50 each and N20 each to print A4 flyers. He said after he completed the printing job, he was invited to the office of the organisation in Abuja and given N30 million in cash.
He told the court that he asked why he was being paid in cash, but was told by one Mr. Oke, his contact person in the organisation, that cash was the approved means of payment.
Mr. Olusegun also told the court that apart from the N30 million paid to him, there is also an outstanding payment of N24 million which was not paid to his company.
Judge seizes Fani-Kayode’s phone
There was a mild drama during the trial after the judge, Sule Hassan, ordered that the mobile phone of Mr. Fani-Kayode be seized after the accused phone rang out.
The judge also warned a member of the defence team to stop sipping water in the court without first asking for permission to do so.
“The court is not a market place, there must be order and sanity,” he said.
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