Court slams N200,000 fine on Fani-Kayode, threatens to revoke his bail
Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday slammed a N200, 000 fine on the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, for failing to appear in court to take his plea on alleged N4.6 billion fraud charge.
Fani-Kayode is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside a former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Nenadi Esther Usman, and one Danjuma Yusuf, a former chairman of Association of Local Governments in Nigeria (ALGON) and a limited liability company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited.
The defendants’ prosecution had commenced since 2016, before Justice Sule Muslim Hassan, who has been elevated to the Court of Appeal.
Midway to their trial before Justice Hassan, the defendants’ sought to have a different judge adjudicate on the matter on the ground that Justice Hassan was formerly a legal officer with the prosecuting agency (EFCC).
They had their way as the case was transferred to Justice Rilwan Aikawa. While the matter was pending before Justice Aikawa, the defendants’ pleas were retaken.
Also, midway to the defendants’ trial, Justice Aikawa was transferred to another jurisdiction of the court, hence their case file was transferred to the new Judge, Justice Osiagor, for the matter to commence afresh.
At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, the prosecutor, Mrs. Bilikisu Buhari, informed the court that the matter was to start afresh, but that Fani-kayode, who is the second defendant was not in court to take his plea.
The prosecutor, therefore, urged the court to revoke Fani-kayode’s bail.
However, Fani-kayode’s counsel, F. B. Ajudua, pleaded with the court not to revoke his bail, saying that a letter has been written on behalf of his client, that he is currently on ‘bed rest’, at Kubwa General Hospital, Abuja.
Ajudua also told the court that his client has been coming for trial since the matter commenced in 2016, adding that he was only absent in court yesterday.
While apologising for his client’s absence, he begged the court not to revoke his bail, and also asked for a short adjournment.
But the trial judge, upon perusing the court’s records, discovered that Fani-Kayode had been absent from court for five times, which the judge said has stalled the smooth hearing of the matter.
Justice Osiagor, therefore, gave two options of either to revoke his bail or impose a fine of N200, 000 and his counsel opted for the fine option.
Consequently, Justice Osiagor, imposed a N200, 000 fine on the defendant, which he ordered must be paid before the next adjourned date and adjourned till November 30, for the defendants’ re-arraignment.