Former minister for aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, yesterday appeared before a Federal High Court in Lagos, in answer to a charge of money laundering. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged the accused on a 47-count charge of alleged money laundering.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge. When the case came up for hearing yesterday, the accused was re-arraigned before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia on the charge by the EFCC but he pleaded not guilty to all counts. Counsel to the accused, Chief Ladi Williams (SAN), had urged the court to allow the accused to continue with the bail conditions granted by Justice Ramat Mohammed, the initial trial judge.
He also told the court to allow the accused free liberty to travel abroad at will for medical check, adding that the second trial judge, Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, had granted such leave to the accused.
The application for bail was not opposed by the prosecutor Mr. Nelson Okedinachi, who subsequently requested for a trial date. Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia in her ruling, allowed the accused to continue with the earlier bail granted by Mohammed.
She adjourned the case to March 11, 12 and 13 respectively for trial. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that his re-arraignment was due to the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice Binta Murtala Nyako (the second trial judge) from the Lagos jurisdiction of the court. Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia becomes the third trial judge to be ceased of the case.
NAN recalls that the accused was first arraigned sometime in December 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed on the charge. He had pleaded not guilty to the charge and justice Mohammed had granted him bail in the sum of N200 Million with two sureties in like sum. Justice Mohammed had subsequently been transferred from the Lagos division of the court.
The case was then taken over by Justice Murtala-Nyako, who again was transferred from the court. NAN reports that the charge against the accused borders on 47 counts of alleged money laundering and financial misappropriation. The said offences were said to be committed by the accused during his capacity as Minister of Aviation and Minister of Culture and Tourism respectively. According to the prosecutor, the alleged offence contravenes the provisions of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act 2004.