Sunday, March 3, 2024

Defence counsel’s absence stalls Fani-Kayode’s N4.9bn fraud case

The N4.9bn fraud trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, scheduled to continue on Thursday before the Federal High Court in Lagos was stalled due to the absence of one of the defence counsel, Clement Onwuenwuenor.

Fani-Kayode is being tried alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman; Danjuma Yusuf, and a firm, Joint Trust Dimensions Limited.

Onwuenwuenor, who is a lawyer to Yusuf and Joint Trust Dimensions Limited, wrote to the court to seek an adjournment.

He said he was before the Court of Appeal in Lagos in respect of three criminal cases.

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As a result, Justice Rilwan Aikawa adjourned the case till February 24 and 25.

The defendants are facing 17 counts bordering on conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering.

Fani-Kayode, who was the Director of Publicity of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign organisation for the 2015 election, was accused of conspiring with the others to, directly and indirectly, retain various sums which the EFCC claimed they ought to have reasonably known were proceeds of crime.

In one of the counts, the defendants were accused of conspiring among themselves to “indirectly retain the sum of N1,500, 000,000.00 which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing”.

The four were also accused of indirectly retaining N300m, N400m and N800m, all proceeds of corruption, according to the EFCC.

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Fani-Kayode was accused of directly using parts of the money at various times, including an N250,650,000.00, which he allegedly used between March 20 and 25, 2015.

Fani-Kayode was also accused of making a cash transaction of N24m with one Olubode Oke, said to still be at large, on February 12, 2015 “to Paste Poster Co of 125, Lewis Street, Lagos Island.”

The duo were said to have made the transaction without going through any financial institution, an act the EFCC claimed was contrary to sections 1(a) and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

The defendants pleaded not guilty.

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