Tuesday, February 24, 2015 8:05 am
The absence of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecutor, Mr. Festus Keyamo, on Monday stalled the continuation of the trial of the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, for alleged money laundering.
The Director of Publicity, President Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, is standing trial before a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, on charges of transacting financial business without going through any financial institution.
The matter had been adjourned till Monday for the accused to open his defence after the prosecution had closed its case and the court had ruled on the former minister’s no-case submission ordering him to enter his defence on two-count charge.
When the case was mentioned on Monday morning, a lawyer from Festus Keyamo’s chambers, Somadina Okorie, informed the court that his principal, Keyamo was appearing before an Adamawa Federal High Court in Yola, and that his principal had written a letter to the court, urging it to adjourn the matter till Tuesday since the case was slated for Monday and Tuesday.
Counsel to Fani-Kayode, Olawale Akoni (SAN) admitted receiving a copy of the said letter. Akoni informed the court that the case was slated for the accused to open his defence, and that since the prosecutor was not around he conceded to the adjournment request of the prosecution.
Consequently, the court adjourned the case till Tuesday and Wednesday for continuation of trial.
Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, in a ruling had on 17 November, 2014, partially upheld a no-case-submission filed by the former Aviation Minister, discharging and acquitting him of 38 out of 40 counts of money laundering charges and ordered him to enter his defence in the two counts.
Ofili-Ajumogobia held that from the wordings of the charge, it was clear that they were basically set out in two formats, with counts one to 33 of the same format, while other counts of different format.
In the charge, the former Minister of Aviation was alleged to have transferred funds exceeding N500,000 without going through a financial institution.
He was also alleged to have accepted cash payments to the tune of about N100 million, while he held sway as Minister of Aviation and Minister of Culture and Tourism respectively.
The offence is said to contravene the provisions of Sections 15(1) (a) (b) (c) (d) and 15 (2) (a) (b) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act, 2004.