A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered Femi Fani-Kayode, the former Minister of Aviation, to pay a N200,000 fine for failing to appear in court for alleged money laundering.
On Wednesday, October 13, Justice Daniel Osaigor issued the ruling, claiming that after reviewing the court’s records, he discovered five different letters from the former Minister requesting delay on the same medical grounds. FFK was told that if he didn’t pay the money, his bail would be revoked.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has charged Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Nenadi Esther Usman, one Danjuma Yusuf, a former chairman of ALGON, and a limited liability company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd, with a 17-count charge of N4.6 billion money laundering.
The defendants were first arraigned before Justice Mohammed Aikawa, but the case was then shifted to Osaigor, with a re-arraignment slated for Wednesday, October 13.
Mr I.J. Ogechukwu appeared for the first defendant (Usman), Mr B.F. Ajudua for the second defendant (Fani-Kayode), and Y. Olabode for the third and fourth defendants when the matter was called on Wednesday.
Mrs. Bilikisu Buhari, the prosecutor, notified the court that the case will be reopened, but Fani-Kayode, the second defendant, was not present to enter his plea. As a result, the prosecutor requested that the former Minister’s bail be revoked.
Buhari informed the court that on July 15, the prosecution requested that the case be adjourned so that the defendants may be re-arraigned. The prosecution received a letter from the second defendant on October 11 alerting them that he had been placed on bed rest, she said the court.
Buhari told the court that the second defendant’s letters had grown in number, and that they were all written to avoid appearing in court.
F. B. Ajudua, Fani-lawyer, Kayode’s appealed with the court not to withdraw his client’s bail, claiming that a letter had been submitted on his behalf, claiming that his client is now on ‘bed rest’ at Kubwa General Hospital in Abuja.
Since the case began in 2016, Ajudua has told the court that the second defendant has been willing to attend his trial. He expressed regret for Fani-absence, Kayode’s pleaded with the court not to revoke his bail, and requested a brief adjournment.
However, after reviewing the court’s records, the trial judge discovered that the former Minister had been missing from court five times, a circumstance that the judge claimed has hampered the charge’s smooth hearing. The letters were written on February 1, 2018, May 30, 2019, November 24, 2020, March 21, 2021, and October 9, 2021, according to him.
As a result, Justice Osiagor gave him two options: revoke his bond or pay a fine of N200, 000, which his lawyer chose.
The case was postponed until November 30th, and the fine must be paid before the next court appearance.