Money Laundering: Witness Says Aviation Funds Did Not Go Missing During Fani-Kayode’s Tenure

Femi-Fani-Kayode-2Trial continued today (Wednesday) at the Federal High Court, Lagos with the testimony of a third prosecution witness in the case of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode.

Mr. Fani-Kayode is facing a 40 count charge of laundering about a hundred million naira.

The offence was allegedly committed while he served first as Minister for Culture and Tourism and then as Aviation Minister.

The witness, Mr Bashir Abdullahi who is an investigating police officer with the EFCC, told the court today that the case file of the former minister was assigned to him in 2008, for investigation.

During investigations, Mr Fani-Kayode was invited to the EFCC, where he made various statements in writing, as to the N19.5bn Aviation Intervention Funds.

Under cross examination, the witness told the court that the EFCC’s investigations revealed that no parts of the funds were missing during the tenure of the former aviation minister.

After his testimony, the prosecutor, Mr Festus Keyamo urged the court to grant an adjournment to enable him produce his remaining witnesses, and close the case of the prosecution.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned the case to April 16 and April 17 for continuation of trial.

Money Laundering: Fani-Kayode’s Trial Commences

Femi Fani-KayodeTrial commenced afresh on Monday in the money laundering charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode.

Mr. Fani-Kayode is facing a 40-count charge of laundering about 100 million naira.

The offence was allegedly committed while he served first as Minister for Culture and Tourism and then as Aviation Minister.

The trial began with the prosecution’s first witness, Mr. Okechukwu Okeke, testifying before the court.

Mr. Okeke, a Relationship Officer with First City Monument Bank, FCMB, said that Mr. Fani-Kayode’s account at the bank had become dormant.

He explained that the account was with First Atlantic Bank before it was acquired by Finbank, which was also acquired by FCMB.

The prosecution counsel, Mr Festus Keyamo, tendered Mr. Fani-Kayode’s bank statement of account between August 2008 and September 2012, but the inability to provide the bank statements between 2004 and 2008, the period during which Mr. Fani-Kayode served as minister ended the trial abruptly.

Efforts by the defence lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe, to secure a long adjournment date for continuation of the trial was rebuffed by the judge who insisted that the trial had dragged on for too long.

Mr. Fani-Kayode was first arraigned in 2008 and since then, three judges have at different times handled his case.

Presiding Judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, has fixed March 18 and 19 for continuation of the trial.

Court Orders Re-Arraignment Of Fani-Kayode Over Money Laundering Charges

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos today ruled that the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode must take his plea to the money laundering charges filed against him.

The court dismissed the objections raised by his counsel that the charge was invalid.

The former minister has an amended 40 count charge of laundering about N100m leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

At the last sitting of the court on the 27th of January, the arraignment of the former minister on the amended charge was stalled after his counsel argued that the charge was not valid.

The defence counsel, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe, who relied on section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Act argued that the failure of the EFCC to name the source of the money rendered the charge vague, persecutory and oppressive.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Festus Keyamo however countered by submitting that the very essence of a crime of money laundering is that the money has no origin and its source cannot be explained.

In her ruling today on the arguments, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia agreed with Mr Keyamo. She held that it was an abject misconception for the defence counsel to raise objections to the validity of the charge.

The court was also of the view that it was enough to state that the former minister received money as the inability to trace the source of the money did not in any way invalidate it.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia has fixed the 5th of March for the re-arraignment of the former minister.

EFCC Amends Money Laundering Charges Against Fani-Kayode

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has pruned the allegations of money laundering levelled against former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode.

From an initial 47 count charge of laundering about N230 million, the charges were pruned down today to 40 counts of laundering about N100m.

The arraignment of the former aviation minister on the amended charges was however stalled today (Monday) as his counsel, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) objected to the charges on the grounds that it was invalid. He refused to allow his client make his plea.

The defence counsel said he was objecting to the validity of the charges in line with Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

The lawyer contended that his client is alleged to have received money from anonymous persons. He concluded that the charge was not only invalid but was also vague, persecutory and oppressive.

“They alleged that he accepted money. When you accuse somebody of accepting money, clearly the person from whom the money was accepted becomes important,” Mr. Adedipe stated.

“The other charges there…one of them accused him of having his wife pay money into his account. These charges cannot be valid,” he added.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Festus Keyamo argued that the charge was not about stealing or conversion where the owner of the money must be stated.

“The very essence of the crime of money laundering is when the money has no origin, when you are caught with large sums of money and you cannot explain the source,” Mr. Keyamo said.

Our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele reports that the trial judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, has asked both the prosecution and defence counsel to file their written addresses and adjourned ruling on the matter till the 3rd of February.

The Federal Government is prosecuting Mr. Fani-Kayode, at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

APC Leaders In Ogun To Meet With Obasanjo

The leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have converged on Ogun State ahead of a planned meeting with a former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, as part of the party’s ongoing consultation.

The Saturday meeting will hold at the hilltop home of the former president in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

Some of the party members expected at the meeting are currently holding a closed door meeting at the Ogun State Government House.

The National Interim Leader of the Party, Bisi Akande, Bola Tinubu, Rochas Okorocha, Nuhu Ribadu, Bukola Saraki, Ahamed Abdulfatah, Halimodu Sherif, Muritala Nyako, Femi Fani Kayode, Rabiu Kwakwanso, are some of the party members that will attend the meeting.

Former military Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari and Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi are also expected to join the group before they will proceed to Mr. Obasanjo’s residence.

The meeting is coming after Mr Obasanjo, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), wrote an open letter to the Nigerian president entitled; ‘Before It Is Too Late’, pointing out issues bothering on sensitive areas, some of which are security, politics and economy.

Mixed reactions have trailed the open letter.

President Jonathan’s spokesman, Reuben Abati, said the letter was “self-serving and highly provocative”.

Some critics are of the opinion that Mr Obasanjo lacked the moral backing to write such letter, as the issues he mentioned existed during his tenure as the Nigerian president.

Others say the message and not the messenger should be looked at.

It is not clear if the APC meeting is aimed at wooing him to join the party, as several PDP governors and lawmakers in the House of Representatives have defected to the APC in the last few weeks.

Obasanjo’s Letter Marks End Of Jonathan, PDP – Fani-Kayode

A former Aviation Minister, Femi-Fani Kayode, on Friday said that the controversial 18 page letter written by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo spells doom for President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP, as it would act as a catalyst to terminate the President’s 2015 ambition.

“I believe that Obasanjo’s letter will end up ensuring President Goodluck Jonathan’s fortunes as President of the country post 2015 may not be realised.

“I believe this is the end of Jonathan and I believe this is the end of the PDP as a party, unless Jonathan retraces his steps,” he said.

Mr Fani-Kayode who described the letter as ‘timely’ and ‘historic’ said President Obasanjo is making attempts at correcting his mistake of supporting Jonathan in becoming the President, as well as an attempt to help Jonathan restore the PDP as a party and to restore the country.

Many have criticised the former head of state, Obasanjo on grounds that he contributed to the evils he accused President Jonathan of committing but Fani-Kayode retorted by saying Obasanjo is qualified to make such assertions because he is a father to Jonathan, the PDP and the nation.

“This country is going adrift and I think if an elder statesman and somebody who was instrumental in ensuring that President Goodluck Jonathan became president of this country, (a person who is considered a father to the president, a father to the nation and a father to the PDP) is not in a position to tell us the truth about what’s going on in our country and what is going on with our president, then the signals are clear that the country is on the brink of disaster”,

“If he’s not qualified to speak, if he’s not qualified to say what needs to be said publicly in order to help the president to chart the right course, then I really wonder who is,” he said.

Fani-Kayode who agreed with 99 percent of assertions in the letter, objected to claims made by the former president as regarding Lagos state and Bola Tinubu.

“There are one or two aspects, particularly on the issue of Lagos state and Bola Tinubu. I would respectfully disagree with president Obasanjo in terms of how Lagos was won but other than that I agree with everything he has delivered and I think he’s been courageous and he’s shown leadership and those of us that were his disciples and that worked for him for a number of years, can now hold our heads up high that even though he got it wrong by supporting people like Goodluck Jonathan to be president in the first place, he’s finally retraced his steps. He’s doing the right thing and he’s cleaning up the mess that he partly created.”

On President Jonathan’s rumoured second term agenda, Mr Fani-Kayode said that Obasanjo’s words at  Jonathan are timely and necessary as well as honourable because he put his life and the lives of his family members on the line.

“The right and proper thing to do is for the government and the president himself to personally (as an individual and not through any of his aides or ministers) try to address these issues.”

The former minister praised the former President, saying that he had contributed immensely to the fortune of the nation.

During the civil war, he ensured that the Igbo’s surrender. When the Shagari government was going adrift, he spoke out and things happened. He did the same during the Babangida regime.

During the Yar’adua regime, Obasanjo spoke out against the late President’s continued reign in office even though he was on a sick bed.

Fani-Kayode stressed that the current president has enjoyed support from the former head of state over the last three years, to the disagreement of many who thought he got it wrong in the first place.


APC Mobilisation Committee Rally Support for Aregbesola

The All Progressive Congress (APC) played host to members of the National Mobilisation Committee who were in the state to rally support for governor Rauf Aregbesola’s second term bid.

Led by the chairman of the committee, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, the committee streesed the need for continuity in governance to consolidate on the policies and programmes of Governor Aregbesola in the State.

Former Minister of the FCT, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, former Governor of Ogun and Yobe states, Olusegun Osoba and Abba Abuga Ibrahim, former PDP chairman Audu Ogbeh, Femi -Fani Kayode, former Aviation Minister, Mr Tony Momoh were also present at the event.

The need for the party to work hard for victory in the forthcoming elections in Osun and Ekiti states in 2014 as well as the 2015 presidential elections was the major point of discourse.

The committee also appealed to the party members to ensure they register for the elections as all things will be done to ensure free and fair elections in 2014.

Court To Rule On EFCC’s Prosecution Team Against Fani-Kayode On Tuesday

A Federal High Court Judge in Lagos, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia has fixed, Tuesday 25th of June to rule on whether the prosecution team of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led by Festus Keyamo can prosecute the money laundering case involving former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia fixed the date after lawyers in the matter adopted their written addresses.

The former Aviation Minister is standing trial before on a 47-count charge of laundering about N230million filed against him by the EFCC.

At the last sitting of the court on June 6, Fani-Kayode’s counsel; Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), had challenged the appearance of the prosecutor, one Vitalis Ahaotu from the law firm of Festus Keyamo.

Counsel to the former Minister wondered whether the law firm had obtained the fiat of the Attorney General of the Federation to prosecute the matter or was prosecuting on behalf of the EFCC.

The Prosecutor has however countered by arguing that neither the defendant nor the court can inquire into the propriety of a counsel’s appearance in a criminal trial especially where the counsel has been properly briefed by his client.



Money Laundering: EFCC Re-arraigns Fani-Kayode

A Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, was Monday morning re-arraigned before a Federal High court in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, for alleged money laundering offences.

The re-arraignment became necessary because the judge who was initially trying the case, Justice Binta Murtala Nyako has been transferred to Makurdi Division of the Federal High court.

Consequently, the new judge, Justice Ofili Ajumoghobia, has taken over the case.

In the 47-count charge, Mr Fani-Kayode, between November 2006 and January 2007, while serving as minister of Aviation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was alleged to have made some financial transactions exceeding N500,000 which was not done through a financial institution by accepting tax payment of N10 million, which sum was further carried in cash to First Inland Bank, Apapa branch, through one Mark Saviour Ndifreke, his own associate now at large, and put it in an investment account in his favour for 90 days.

Other various sums of money amounting to about N180 million was also allegedly paid into his account in cash through two other people, Supo Agbaje, his administrative staff, and his wife, Regina Fani-Kayode (now at large).

The accused former minister, pleaded not guilty to all the 47-count charge.

Consequently, his lawyer, Ladi Williams, leading three other lawyers and Senor Advocates of Nigeria, Wale Babalakin, Wale Akoni and Ifedapo Adedipe urged the court to allow Mr Fani-Kayode continue on his former bail granted to him.

The EFCC prosecuting counsel, Nelson Okedinachi, did not oppose, but asked for a trial date.

Consequently, with the agreement of both parties, the matter was adjourned till 11 March for trial.

Media chat: You are wrong about Odi, Obasanjo tells Jonathan

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday rebuffed claims by President Goodluck Jonathan that the army invasion of Odi – a small community in Bayelsa state – in 1999 was a failure.

During last Sunday’s presidential media chat, President Jonathan had said that the invasion of Odi ordered by Mr Obasanjo in 1999 was a failure.
He had said: “After that invasion, myself and the governor entered Odi…and saw some dead people. Most of the people that died in Odi were mostly old men, women and children, none of the militants was killed.

“If bombarding Odi was to solve the problem, then it was never solved. If the attack on Odi had solved the problem of militancy in the Niger Delta, then the Yar’ Adua government would not have come up with the Amnesty programme. So, that should tell you that the attack on Odi never solved the militancy problem and we had more challenges after that attack on Odi.”

Reacting to these assertions, Femi Fani-Kayode, who served as Special Assistant on Public Affairs and subsequently Minister of Aviation during Mr Obasanjo regime, released a press statement claiming that the invasion of Odi not only killed the militants but decimated their capacity to wage acts of terror against the state.

The statement reads: “During a live broadcast of the Presidential Media Chat to the nation on the evening of November 18, 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan said that the military operation in Odi by the Nigerian Armed Forces in 1999, which was ordered by President Olusegun Obasanjo, did not solve the problem or stop the killing of soldiers, policemen and innocent civilians in the Niger Delta area by the terrorists and militants. He also said that all he saw in Odi after he went there on an official visit as Deputy Governor were the dead bodies of old people. With the greatest respect to Mr. President this is factually incorrect. He has either forgotten the relevant facts or he has been misinformed. Whichever way he is mistaken and it is important for those of us that proudly served the Obasanjo administration to respond to him in order to clarify the issues, clear the air and set the record straight for the sake of history and posterity.

“I had the privilege of being briefed about all the facts by President Olusegun Obasanjo himself and Col. Kayode Are, the former DG of the SSS, immediately after the Presidential Media Chat and I believe that it is appropriate to share some of those facts with members of the Nigerian public given the grave assertion and serious charge that President Jonathan has made. Those facts are as follows:
Why Army invaded Odi

“Five policemen and four soldiers were killed by a group of Niger Delta militants when they tried to enter the town of Odi in Bayelsa State in order to effect their arrest. This happened in 1999. After the brutal killing of these security personnel, President Olusegun Obasanjo asked the then Governor of Bayelsa State, Governor Alamieyeseigha, to identify, locate, apprehend and hand over the perpetrators of that crime.

“The Governor said that he was unable to do so and President Obasanjo, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, took the position that security personnel could not be killed with impunity under his watch without a strong and appropriate response from the Federal Government. Consequently he sent the military in, to uproot and kill the terrorists and to destroy their operational base which was the town of Odi. The operation was carried out with military precision and efficiency and it’s objectives were fully achieved. The terrorists were either killed and those that were not killed fled their operational base in Odi. They were uprooted, weakened, demoralised and completely dispersed. That was the purpose of the whole exercise and that purpose was achieved. The truth is that the killing of security agents and soldiers with impunity by the Niger Delta militants virtually stopped after the operation in Odi and remained at a bare minimum right up until the time that President Obasanjo left power eight years later in 2007. I advise those that doubt this to go and check the records.

“The same thing was done in Zaki-Biam in Benue State in the North-central zone of Nigeria in 2001 after 19 soldiers were murdered in cold blood and then brutally beheaded by some terrorists from that area. Again after the Federal Government’s strong military response in Zaki Biam, the killing of security personnel with impunity stopped. The objectives of the military operations in both Odi and Zaki-Biam were to stop such killings, to eliminate and deal a fatal blow to those that perpetrated them and to discourage those that may seek to carry out such barbarous butchery and mindless violence in the future.

“Those were the objectives and nothing more and clearly those objectives were achieved. There is no doubt that after Odi, there were still unrest, agitations, protests, kidnappings and the blowing up and sabotage of oil pipelines in the Niger Delta area but there were hardly any more attacks on or killing of soldiers and security personnel by the terrorists and militants because they knew that to do that would attract a swift and forceful reaction and terrible retribution from the Nigerian military.
Invasions objective achieved

“To stop and deter those attacks and killings was the objective of President Obasanjo and that objective was achieved. President Goodluck Jonathan was therefore in error when he said that Odi did not solve the problem of killings in the Niger Delta area by the Niger Delta militants. Not only did it stop the killings but it is also an eloquent testimony of how to deal with terrorists, how to handle those that kill our security personnel with impunity and how to deter militants from killing members of our civilian population and thinking that they can get away with it. If President Obasanjo had not taken that strong action at that time, many more of our civilian population and security personnel would have been killed by the Niger Delta militants between 1999 and 2007.

“By doing what he did at Odi and Zaki-Biam, President Obasanjo saved the lives of many and put a stop to the killings and terrorism that had taken root in the Niger Delta area prior to that time.”

The former Aviation minister also said Mr Obasanjo’s comments last week on how to solve the Boko Haram problem were misconstrued and misrepresented in certain quarters.

“He never said that the Odi treatment should be applied to Boko Haram or that such action is appropriate in these circumstances. What he said was that a solution ought to have been found or some sort of action ought to have been taken sooner rather than allow the problem to fester over time like a bad wound and get worse.

“There can be no doubt that he was right on this because, according to President Jonathan’s own Chief of Army Staff, no less than 3000 people have been killed by Boko Haram in the last two years alone. That figure represents approximately the same number of people that were killed by the IRA in Northern Ireland and the British mainland in the 100 years that the war between them and British lasted and before peace was achieved between the two sides.

“The same number of casualties that the IRA inflicted on the people of the United Kingdom in 100 years, is the same number of casualties that Boko Haram have managed to inflict on our people in just two. This is unacceptable and it is very disturbing. The Federal Government must cultivate the courage and the political will to stop the killings by Boko Haram and to find a permanent solution to the problem.”

Nigerian lawyers are corrupt – former minister

A former minister of information, Chief Edwin Clark has called on the Nigerian judicial system to put its house in order, claiming that both the bar and bench have thrown away ethics of the profession.

The Ijaw leader made this known on Wednesday in Abuja, where he was the guest lecturer of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies’ (NIALS) annual lecture on the State of the Federation.

According to Chief Clark, “The Bench and The Bar have some questions to answer.”

“Both the bench and the bar are not doing anything to address corruption and if nothing is done about it, Nigeria will remain in the bottom list of corrupt countries in the world” he affirmed.

He made an example of an injunction granted the former governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili by a Court that prevents any possibility of him facing a trial in the country.

“Peter Odili was found to have stolen N100billion of Rivers state fund and today he is a free man and parading himself as a state’s man” he said.

Citing more complicities of judges and lawyers, Chief Clark named former governors such as Joshua Dariye, Ayo Fayose, Saminu Turaki, Uzor Orji Kalu, as some of the former governors whose trial on corruption charges are stalling in courts due to series of adjournments, and injunctions by their lawyers and judges.

“Their cases are adjourned and adjourned and nothing is happening” he stated annoyingly.

After alleging that former Minister of Aviation Femi Fani-Kayode embezzled some funds, meant for the aviation sector, the Ijaw leader stated that “Femi Fani-Kayode is now parading himself as a moral icon, so why will people not steal” Chief Edwin Clark asked.

“If we don’t fix corruption in this country…we are going nowhere” he concluded.


Go and face your fraud trial Supreme Court tells Fani-Kayode

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the appeal filed by former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode challenging the admissibility of computer generated statement of accounts under the old Evidence Act.

The appeal was sequel to an objection raised at the Federal High Court by counsel to Mr. Fani-Kayode, Ladi Williams as to the admissibility of computer generated statement of accounts of the former minister.

Though this objection was sustained by the trial court, the Court of Appeal in its judgment set aside the decision of the trial court presided over by Justice A. R. Mohammed and admitted the said Statement of Accounts in evidence.
Mr. Fani-Kayode appealed against the decision of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.

Whilst the matter was pending at the Supreme Court, the Evidence Act was amended and Computer-Generated Bank Statements were made clearly admissible by Section 84 of the new Evidence Act. At the same time, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in exercising his administrative powers transferred Justice Mohammed from the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court to Enugu Division and the matter was therefore re-assigned to a new Judge, Justice Binta Nyako.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission through its counsel, Festus Keyamo, therefore, filed a motion to dismiss the appeal before the Supreme Court arguing that the appeal has become academic in that the proceedings that gave rise to the appeal no longer exists.

At a resumed hearing of the appeal on Thursday, the panel of the Supreme Court, after taking oral arguments from Mr. Williams and Mr. Keyamo, concluded that the appeal has indeed become academic in that the proceedings that gave rise to the appeal have become spent.

The Supreme Court therefore directed Mr. Williams to withdraw the appeal. The appeal was subsequently dismissed for being academic, while Mr. Fani-Kayode was directed to go back to the new Judge, Justice Nyako, to face his trial.

Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned to October 10, 2012 for hearing.