The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently grilling a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode.
Officials of the anti-graft agency confirmed this to Channels Television in Lagos.
SaharaReporters had published on Tuesday that Fani-Kayode might well be deploying a contrived method between him and some medical personnel to find medical excuses to enable him to evade trial.
The EFCC, according to ICIR, after receiving the defendant’s latest letter, observed the trend Fani-Kayode’s letters had taken in getting adjournments and decided to take a hard look at the development.
The agency observed all the letters were supposedly issued from the Kubwa General Hospital, Abuja, except one issued from the Federal Staff Hospital, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja.
The former minister, who recently defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was invited to answer questions relating to the forgery of a medical report which he allegedly procured to evade his trial before a Federal High Court in Lagos, sources had said.
However, it was gathered that the former minister arrived at the Lagos office of the commission in company with his lawyer around 1 pm.
He was said to be answering questions from EFCC investigators even till late afternoon.
The commission said it would give an update on the interrogation later when it concludes its investigations.
Fani-Kayode is standing trial over an alleged N4.6 billion fraud before Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
The EFCC had charged him alongside a former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman, and two others on 17 counts of conspiracy, money laundering, and fraud.
At the last sitting of the court on October 13, the judge had imposed a cost of N200,000 on him due to his failure to appear before the court for his re-arraignment following the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa.
He was ordered to pay the fine or stand the risk of having his bail revoked after he failed to appear before the court for his re-arraignment.
Instead of showing up in court for his re-arraignment, the former minister had sent a letter to the court, claiming that his doctors had placed him on bed rest.
Counsel for the EFCC, Mrs Bilikisu Buhari had informed the court that the letters by the second defendant had become numerous and had also become an excuse for him to evade trial.
“This is the third time he will be writing this type of letter from the same hospital. Whenever he doesn’t want to attend court, this is the type of letter we get," she said.
But Fani-Kayode’s counsel, Bobo Fred-Ajudua, interrupted and informed the judge that although his client’s illness was a recurring one, he had attended court regularly, and this could be shown from the court’s records.
He, thereafter, asked the court to grant an adjournment in favour of his client. At that point, the trial judge decided to go through the court’s file and after searching, he discovered that the second defendant had actually sought a similar medical excuse five times.
The court then asked the defence counsel to take one of two options which were to either revoke the bail of the second defendant or to impose a fine of N200,000 to be paid before the next trial date.
“From my records, the second defendant had written the court five times excusing his trial on medical grounds. February 1, 2018; May 30, 2019; November 24, 2020; March 21, 2021, and today’s letter dated October 9, 2021.
“The second defendant is to pay a cost of N200,000 before the next adjourned date, as the recurring medical excuses have been a pattern that slows down this trial,” the judge held.
The defence counsel chose the latter option.
Justice Osaigor then adjourned the case until November 30 for re-arraignment of all the defendants.
In counts one to seven, the defendants were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.
In counts eight to 14, the defendants were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke who is said to be at large, in counts 15 to 17, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million – over the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
All the offences were said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money laundering (prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.