The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Tuesday, fixed April 25 to commence full-blown hearing on the five-count charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) preferred against former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode.
Fani-Kayode, who was the Director of Media and Publicity in the campaign team of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan during the 2015 election, is facing trial over alleged N26 million fraud.
He was accused of illegally receiving N26 million from the detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), before the election to organize the media campaign for Jonathan.
EFCC maintained that he committed an offense contrary to section 17(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 17(b) of the same Act.
Meantime, the trial could not commence on Tuesday as scheduled owing to the inability of the EFCC to produce its witnesses in court. EFCC lawyer, Mr. Johnson Ojogbane, told the court that he had earlier prepared the witnesses for the proceeding. The prosecution said he did not know why the witnesses were not in court as proposed.
“My lord, I really don’t know why the witnesses are not here in spite of the fact that they were duly notified of the trial, but I don’t want to speculate. In the circumstance, I shall be applying for a short adjournment to enable the prosecution to produce the witnesses," Ojogbane stated.
Following the development, Justice John Tsoho deferred commencement of the trial till April 25.
The trial court had earlier granted the defendant, who spent 24 days in detention, bail to the tune of N50 million with one surety in like sum.
Fani-Kayode is also answering to another 17-count money laundering charge before the Lagos Division of the high court, along with a former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman; Danjuma Yusuf and a firm, Joint Trust Dimension Nig. Ltd.
The defendants were, in that case, charged with unlawful retention, unlawful use and unlawful payment of money to the tune of N4.9 billion. However, in the instant charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/140/2016, Fani-Kayode was cited as the sole defendant.
The former Minister had earlier denied media reports that he begged the Federal Government to allow him to refund the N26 million in dispute, in an out-of-court settlement deal. While refuting the report, Fani-Kayode said he would never engage in a plea bargain arrangement over charges he pleaded not guilty to.