The trial of former minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, for alleged money laundering at a Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday suffered a setback, following his continued remand at the Kuje prisons in Abuja.
Mr. Fani-Kayode, former director of media and publicity of the campaign committee of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, is charged alongside a former minister of finance, Nenadi Usman, and Danjuma Yusuf.
They were charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 17-count bordering on money laundering.
The accused were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion , while in counts eight to 14, the accused were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million.
Meanwhile, in counts 15 to17, Mr. Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke, now at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
Besides, Mr. Fani-Kayode was alleged to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
The EFCC said the offences contravened the provisions of Sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
But all the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, Mr. Fani-Kayode’s counsel, Wale Balogun, informed the court that his client was not in court because the operatives of EFCC arrested him at the last sitting on October 21.
He said EFCC had since then incarcerated him in Kuje prison.
“My lord, I recall that on October 21, I informed this court that the EFCC were planning an arrest of the second accused.
“And I remember that my lord advised that in view of his pending trial before the court, he should be invited here whenever the need arises.
“My lord, on the said day, after the court had risen, the second accused was arrested within the court’s premises.
“I requested for an arrest warrant from the leader who informed me that there was none to that effect but told me that the order was `from above’.
“The second accused was taken to the EFCC Lagos and kept till 5 p.m. when another order came from `above’ to move him to Abuja immediately.
“My lord, the second accused was kept in custody of the prosecution for 21 days without any word,’’ he told the court.
“He was finally arraigned on November 10 before your learned brother Justice John Tsoho in Abuja, on a five-count charge bordering on N26 million.
“He was subsequently remanded at the Kuje prisons and in view of this, we are helpless, as his bail conditions have not been perfected in spite of frantic efforts by family and friends.’’
Responding, the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that he was aware of the arraignment of the second accused but added that his arraignment before the Abuja division of the court had nothing to do with the instant case.
He argued that the subsequent arrest of the accused was with a view to serving him with the charge and not to disrespect the court.
Mr. Oyedepo urged the court to grant an adjournment so as to allow the accused appear and stand trial.
Justice Muslim Hassan then ruled that “I will refrain from making any comment in relation to the arrest of the second accused in the court’s premises in spite of being granted bail.
“This case is adjourned at the instance of the prosecution to December 12, while the earlier date of November 15 is hereby vacated,’’ he ruled.