EFCC vs Fani-Kayode: What happened in court on Friday

The trial of former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, was stalled at the Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday. This was due to the absence of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftain.

Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, B. F. Ajudua, said he was “indisposed”, but did not state openly what was ailing the former minister.

“We apologise for the absence of the second defendant. A letter to that effect was filed,” he told the court.

Fani-Kayode, Director of Publicity of the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2015, is on trial with former Minister of State for Finance, Mrs. Nenadi Usman, for alleged money laundering.

They were charged with former Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) Chairman and ex-Chairman of Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Mr. Yusuf Danjuma, and a company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.

The quartet were accused of violating the Money Laundering Act by indirectly retaining N300million, N400million and N800million, all proceeds of corruption, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The prosecution said they allegedly committed the offence, to which they pleaded not guilty, between January 8 and March 25, 2015 ahead of the 2015 general elections.

At the trial on May 14, Fani-Kayode’s counsel had opposed the prosecution’s bid to tender an extra-judicial statement he made.

Usman and Yusuf had also disowned their statements, contending that they made them under duress.

The defence counsel, Messrs Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), Norrison Quakers (SAN) and Clement Onwuenwuenor, urged the judge to order a trial-within-trial to test the voluntariness of the statements.

But the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, maintained that the defendants made the statements voluntarily, adding that there was no need for a trial-within-trial.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa had adjourned till yesterday for ruling on the statements’ admissibility, but Fani-Kayode’s absence stalled it.

The judge adjourned until June 24 for ruling and possible trial-within-trial.