Alleged N4.6bn Fraud: Fani-Kayode Asks Court to Stop Trial

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A former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, wednesday asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to decline territorial jurisdiction in his trial for money laundering.

He prayed Justice Rilwan Aikawa to transfer the case to the court’s Abuja division.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had re-arraigned Fani-Kayode and Senator Nenadi Usman for alleged N4.6billion fraud.

They pleaded not guilty to the 17-count charge of laundering.
The defendants were first arraigned last June 28 before Justice Muslim Hassan, but he recused himself on March 16, after Fani-Kayode accused him of likely bias.

The judge transferred the case file to the Chief Judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for re-assignment to another judge.
Arguing the application before Justice Aikawa, Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN), said the court lacked the jurisdiction to try the case in Lagos.

He said the facts of the case show that all the transactions which the former minister carried out as Director of Media and Publicity of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, for which he was charged, took place in Abuja.
Besides, he said the defendant stays in Abuja and has another trial currently going in Abuja in another case.
But, EFCC’s lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo urged the court to refuse the application.

According to him, the instruments of transactions, including cheques and receipts, “were recovered in Lagos.”
“The financial institutions used in the transactions have their head offices in Lagos,” Oyedepo added.

He said 13 of the prosecution’s 17 witnesses live in Lagos, adding that the application was ploy to delay the case.
Oyedepo said Fani-Kayode’s lawyers also raised the issue of transfer before Justice Hassan, yet the Chief Judge, re-assigned the case to another judge in Lagos rather than one in Abuja.

“The consequence of the alleged offence of money laundering is not limited to Abuja, but the entire federation. All the instruments of transaction were brought by Zenith Bank in Lagos,” he said.

Before the application for transfer was moved, Oyedepo had sought to tender receipts showing that Fani-Kayode made a cash payment of N30million to the first prosecution witness, a media consultant, Adewumi Idowu.

The EFCC sought to tender the two receipts acknowledging cash payments of N24million and N6million, but Quakers objected on the basis that they were not the originals.

Justice Aikawa adjourned till September 26 and 27 for ruling and continuation of trial.