Court Fixes Wednesday To Decide Jurisdiction On Suit Against Fani-Kayode, Others
A Federal High Court in Lagos is set to rule on the challenge of its jurisdiction in the case of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against two former ministers and two others.
The court fixed Wednesday, January 18 for ruling after listening to arguments on the issue from lawyers in the matter.
The EFCC had arraigned a former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Finance, Senator Nenadi Usman, and two others on a 17-count charge of laundering about 4.9 billion Naira.
They all pleaded not guilty.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, concluded his examination of the first prosecution witness, one Mr Idowu Olusegun, a media consultant with Paste Posters Company Limited.
In his testimony which started in October 2016, Mr Olusegun told the court how he purportedly received about 24 million Naira cash in several tranches from the office of the Mr Fani-Kayode, who was the Director of Campaign Organisation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He explained that the money was meant for the printing of posters and flyers for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election.
The defence lawyers, however, declined to cross-examine the witness.
Call For Separate Trial
Counsel to Mrs Usman, Mr Abiodun Owonikoko, told Justice Muslim Hassan that in the light of pending applications before the court, the stage was ripe to request for the hearing of an application he filed since November 2016, seeking a separate trial for his client.
He stressed that he was concerned that his client would not get a fair hearing with the present joint trial.
Mr Owonikoko also expressed displeasure with the choice of Lagos State as the venue in a matter which he said had nothing to do with the state.
He told the court that it had become very tedious for his client to come from Abuja on every adjourned date and spend at least three days in Lagos, especially with all her accounts frozen.
On his part, Counsel to Mr Fani-Kayode, Mr Norrison Quakers, aligned with these submissions and urged the court to first hear applications touching on its jurisdiction.
He informed the court that he had recently filed an application challenging its jurisdiction.
Mr Quakers stated that to cross examine the witness would mean submitting to the jurisdiction of the court.
The EFCC prosecutor, however, objected to the arguments and insisted that the defendants had already submitted to the jurisdiction of the court after taking their plea.
He argued that all the pending applications could be taken together while the court proceeds with its ruling.
After listening to all the lawyers, Justice Muslim Hassan adjourned the case to Wednesday for ruling.