A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday fixed November 17 for ruling on a no-case submission filed by a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, charged with money laundering.
Mr. Fani-Kayode, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is standing trial on an amended 40-count charge of money laundering.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, the defence counsel, Ifedayo Adedipe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, informed the court of an application for a no-case submission filed on behalf of the accused.
Mr. Adedipe said that he had also filed a reply on points of law in response to the issues raised by the prosecution in their processes.
Adopting his submission, the defence counsel urged the court to discharge the accused of all 40 counts, on the ground that no case has been made out against him to warrant him to enter a defence.
“By way of emphasis, I wish to make one or two points before I take my seat.
“The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges against him before this court, and by so doing, he has joined issues with the prosecution, leaving them to prove their case beyond doubt.
“The prosecution called six witnesses, and of all these witnesses, none of them came forward to give any evidence that they had any financial transaction with the accused.
“Pw3, a Superintendent of Police, told this court that nobody came forward to say that he gave any cash to the accused.
“Pw5, a former aide of the accused, also gave evidence that it was one Kolade who gave him the money he lodged into the account of the accused and this does not prove anything against the accused,” Adedipe said.
The lawyer argued that even though the statement of account of the accused was put in evidence, for which he was required by the prosecution to make explanations, such statement was not prima facie evidence of crime.
Citing Abacha vs State, Adedipe said by the decision of the Supreme Court, such statement of account could only amount to mere suspicion, which no matter how well placed, did not constitute a prima facie case.
“If an individual receives several sums of money from different sources, he is expected to lodge same, and so, the fact that certain amounts are found in his account, does not amount to an offence.
“I therefore, respectfully urge this court to discharge the accused of all counts in the charge.
In response, the prosecutor, Festus Keyamo, urged the court to uphold his written submissions in opposition to the no case submission, and call on the accused to enter his defence.
“Without wasting the time of this court, I will only correct one notion, and that is that the prosecution’s case does not concern lodgments, but transactions which took place before the lodgments.
“Transactions which are done without going through financial institutions, is what comes under the definition of money laundering,” he said.
He, therefore, urged the court to uphold the objection of the prosecution, and call on the accused to enter his defence.
After listening to the submissions of counsel, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, adjourned the case till Nov. 17, for ruling.
The EFCC had opened its case on March 10.
It called a total of six witnesses including Investigating Police Officers, a bank legal officer, relationship officer and a former aide to Fani-Kayode.
All witnesses had given various testimonies about their relationship with the accused, as well as the manner of investigations conducted on him.
The EFCC closed its case on July 10, while defence counsel filed a no case submission on behalf of the accused on August 5.
Mr. Fani-Kayode was first arraigned in December 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed on a 47-count charge.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charge and Justice Mohammed had granted him bail in the sum of N200 million with two sureties in like sum.
He was re-arraigned before Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako, following the transfer of Mohammed from the Lagos Division.
The accused was again re-arraigned before Justice Ajumogobia on Feb. 11, 2013, after the transfer of Murtala-Nyako.
He was again re-arraigned before Ajumogobia on March 6, following the amendment of the 47-count charge to 40 counts, the EFCC having dropped seven of the counts.
In the charge, the accused was alleged to have transacted with funds exceeding N500, 000 without going through a financial institution.
The accused was also alleged to have accepted cash payments in the tune of about N100 million, while he was Minister of Aviation and Minister of Culture and Tourism respectively.
The offence is said to contravene the provisions of Sections 15(1) (a) (b) (c) (d) and 15 (2) (a) (b) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act, 2004.