EFCC Re-arraigns Fani-Kayode, Nenadi Usman

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Davidson Iriekpen
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Monday re-arraigned former Ministers of Aviation and Finance, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode and Senator Nenadi Usman, for alleged N4.6billion fraud.
They were arraigned on a 17-count charge of laundering for which they pleaded not guilty.

They were charge along with former Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) and ex-Chairman of Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Mr. Yusuf Danjuma and a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited.

Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Nenadi Esther Usman, Femi Fani-Kayode, Danjuman Yusuf and Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd on or about January 8, 2015, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves 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 N300million, N400million and N800million, all proceeds of corruption, according to EFCC.
The anti-graft said they allegedly committed the offence between last January 8 and last March 25, 2015 ahead of last year’s general election.

In another count, the prosecution alleged that Fani-Kayode directly retained N350million which he ought to have “reasonably known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing.”
The commission said Fani-Kayode directly used the sum of N170million, among other sums, which he reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of corruption and stealing.

He was also accused of doing cash transaction of N24million with Olubode Oke, said to still be at large, without going through a financial institution.
The offence, EFCC said, violates sections 1(a) and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b).

The defendants were first arraigned last June 28 before Justice Muslim Hassan, who on March 16, withdrew from the case after Fani-Kayode accused him of likely bias.
He transferred the case file to the Chief Judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for re-assignment to another judge.

In asking the court to disqualify himself, Fani-Kayode contended that Justice Hassan, who worked as Head of Legal at the EFCC before his appointment as a judge, signed the money laundering charge for which Fani-Kayode was previously tried and acquitted by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumobia on July 1, 2015.

The case was re-assigned to Justice Rilwan Aikawa, which meant the defendants had to take their pleas afresh.
Justice Aikawa asked the defendants to remain on the bail terms earlier granted them by Justice Hassan.
Usman’s lawyer, Abiodun Owonikoko, prayed the court to hear his client’s pending application seeking to transfer the case to Abuja for convenience.

He said Justice Hassan did not address the issue in ruling disqualifying himself.
“He didn’t consider that application. He only recused himself,” Owonikoko said.
But EFCC’s lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo said since the issues were joined before Justice Hassan, who delivered a ruling, the defendants should appeal or file fresh applications.
Justice Aikawa adjourned until June 7 for ruling and commencement of trial.