The former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, risks been declared ‘wanted’ if he continues to excuse himself and refusal to appear for his trial, according to Justice Olubumni Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court in Ikeja, Lagos,
The trial Judge equally frowned at the Prosecutor, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, accusing them of non-diligent prosecution, noting that they can withdraw the matter if the Commission is not ready to prosecute.
Fani-Kayode is standing trial on a 12-count charge bordering on the use of false documents, use of fabricated evidence, procuring the execution of documents by false pretence, and fabricating evidence.
The Defendant was alleged to have forged medical report(s), which he tendered before Justice Daniel Osiagor of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, where he is being prosecuted by the EFCC for an alleged N4.9 billion fraud.
He was arraigned sometime early last year. After his arraignment and commencement of trial, he has refused to appear for trial for about three adjournments, a development which the Judge frowned at. At the last adjourned date, his counsel, Mr Wale Balogun, had informed the court of the absence of the Defendant due to health reasons and issues he had with the Department of State Services, DSS. Mr Balogun had pleaded with the court to grant him an adjournment, with a promise to make him available at next proceedings. However, when the matter was called, Mr Chinozo Eze who represents him, told the court that Fani-Kayode was not in court due to health issues. He informed the court that a medical report and a letter seeking the leave of the court to vacate the two dates, is already in the court file.
EFCC Counsel, Zinat Atiku, confirmed the development and said the prosecution’s hands are tied, as to how to forge ahead.
However, the Judge frowned at the constant non-appearance of the Defendant, noting that the last time he was in court was November 4, 2022. The Judge cited a series of excuses that have been tendered by the Defendant for his non-appearance.
Justice Olubumni Abike-Fadipe adjourned the case to November 7, 2023, for the continuation of trial.