By Davidson Iriekpen
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday re-arrested former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, within the premises of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Reacting, his media assistant Jude Ndukwe raised the alarm over the health of his principal, pointing out that the constant harrassment posed health hazard to him.
Fani-Kayode, who was also former Director of Media and Publicity of the campaign committee of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, was charged alongside a former Minister of Finance, Nenandi Usman, and Danjuma Yusuf.
Also charged is a company, Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Ltd.
They were arraigned on a 17-count charge of unlawful retention, unlawful use and unlawful payment of money in the tune of about N4.9 billion.
They each pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail.
On Friday, after the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, opened the case of the prosecution and had wrapped up the witness’ evidence for the day, the court adjourned the case to November 14 and 15 for continuation of trial and rose.
However, shortly after the accused left the courtroom, two officers of the EFCC dressed in white kaftan accosted him and requested that he followed them to the commission.
Immediately, the court’s gate was barricaded by a Toyota Hiace bus and Fani-Kayode was bundled and taken to the EFCC.
However, when the case was mentioned yesterday, Oyedepo had opened the case for the EFCC and called his first witness, a media consultant, Mr. Idowu Olusegun.
Leading him in evidence, the witness, who is media consultant from Paste Posters Company Ltd, told the court that N30 million was paid in cash to him by the office of the Director of Media and Publicity, PDP Campaign Organisation.
According to Olusegun, he had reached an agreement with the organisation whose office is situated at 14B, Samora Micheal Avenue, Asokoro FCT, for the sum of N24 million for media consultancy services.
He said a further negotiation was reached in which N50 would be paid for each size of A2 posters, while N20 would be paid for each size of A4 flyers.
Olusegun told the court that after the printing job for the posters and flyers was done, he was invited to the office of the organisation, and given N30 million in cash.
He told the court that he had demanded to know why payments was made in cash, and was informed by one Mr. Oke, that cash was the approved means of payment.
He said Oke had been the person communicating with him throughout the pendency of his engagement to do the media jobs.
The witness also told the court that apart from the N30 million paid to him, there was also an outstanding payment of N24 million which was not paid to his company.
After his testimony, and based on agreements of counsel, the court fixed November14 and 15 for continuation of trial.
Meanwhile, a mild drama had unfolded in court during trial when the trial judge, Justice Sule Hassan, ordered the seizure of the mobile phone of Fani-Kayode.
The accused had held his phones and suddenly, the phone rang out loud and the judge asked: “who is doing that”? He spontaneously, ordered the court’s registrar to seize the phones.
Similarly, the trial judge also issued a warning to counsel representing the accused when he sighted him sipping a bottle water during proceedings.
The judge had warned counsel to seek the permission of the court whenever his client was pressed for a drink of water.
According to Hassan, “The court is not a market place, there must be order and sanity.”
In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they 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 accused were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
Meanwhile in counts 15 to17 Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million, in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
Besides, Fani-Kayode was alleged to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
All 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.