Fani-Kayode Meets Bail Conditions, Released

Fani-KayodeFormer Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, has been released from EFCC custody after meeting his bail conditions.

Mr Fani-Kayode was released at about 6:30pm in Lagos on Friday after over two months.

The former Aviation Minister, shortly after his release told Channels Television, “I give thanks to God that I am free after 67 days in detention.

“This was the worst experience of my life but God was with me all the way. I suffered immeasurably but I count it all as joy.

“I am innocent of all charges and I look forward to defending myself vigorously in court. These charges are politically motivated and I have been severely punished for my political views and criticisms of the government.”

Mr Fani-Kayode was arrested by the anti-graft agency over alleged 1.5 billion Naira fraud and has been charged alongside a former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman; a firm, Joint Trust Dimensions Limited; and one Jimoh Yusuf.

The Federal High Court had granted bail in the sum of 250 million Naira each, to Mr Fani-Kayode, Nenadi Usman and Danjuma Yusuf who are being tried by the EFCC for allegedly stealing and laundering about 4.9 billion Naira.

Delivering his ruling on their bail application, the trial judge, Justice Sule Hassan, held that there was no evidence that the defendants would interfere with trial if granted bail.

The judge also held that denying the defendants  bail, especially as the courts’ vacation was near, and would span throughout the expiration of August, would not serve the interest of justice.

Justice Sule Hassan granted the defendants bail with two sureties each in like sum. The sureties must own landed properties within the court’s jurisdiction and must present to the court, evidence of tax clearance.

The defendants were also ordered to deposit their international passports in the custody of the court pending the determination of the case.

Owing to the courts’ annual vacation which commences on Monday July 11, 2016 Justice Hassan adjourned commencement of trial to October 19, 2016.

Fani-Kayode and Usman were the directors of Media and Finance respectively of the Peoples Democratic Party Campaign Organisation in the 2015 general election.

Fani-Kayode, Nenadi Usman To Remain In Prison Till July 4

Fani-KayodeTwo former Nigerian ministers, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode and Nenadi Usman, are to remain in prison till Monday, July 4, as a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has reserved ruling on their bail applications.

Fani-Kayode and Usman were the directors of Media and Finance respectively of the Peoples Democratic Party Campaign Organisation in the 2015 general election.

Both men alongside Danjuma Yusuf and Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited were on June 28 arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before Justice M. Hassan on a 17-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing, corruption and making cash payments exceeding the amount authorised by law.

The accused persons are alleged to have diverted about 4.9 billion Naira belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria for political and personal uses.

They had pleaded not guilty.

Consequently, their counsel, Ferdinand Orbih, Ifedayo Adedipe and S. I. Ameh moved the motion for bail, having filed separate applications in which they asked the court to release their clients on bail.

But the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said he needed time to respond to the applications.

Justice Hassan consequently adjourned proceedings to July 1 for hearing of the bail applications.

According to Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, at the resumed hearing on Friday, counsel to the defendants argued the applications.

Mr Orbih asked the court to admit the first accused person to bail based on self-recognition pending the hearing and determination of the charges preferred against her.

He also prayed the court to grant her bail on very liberal terms. Adedipe and Ndukwe aligned themselves with Orbih.

However, the prosecution counsel, Nkereuwem Mark Anana, opposed the applications.

However, he stated that “where the court decides to exercise its discretion in favour of the defendants, it should impose conditions that will compel them to attend trial”.

Justice Hassan consequently adjourned to July 4, 2016 for ruling.

Metuh’s Trial: Witness Insists Party Raised Funds Spent

MetuhA defence witness in the trial of the spokesman for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Olisa Metuh, says former President Goodluck Jonathan made funds available to the accused for campaign purposes.

The witness, Mr Ikechukwu Abonyi, in his testimony insisted that the funds given to Mr Metuh were raised by the party’s campaign committee, as the Federal Government never funded the activities of the party.

Mr Abonyi under cross-examination said President Jonathan, as the leader of the party, was empowered to direct how campaign funds were disbursed.

The court on Wednesday continued the trial of the Mr Metuh and shortly after announcing appearances, Lawyer to the second defendant informed the court of a preliminary objection he filed, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to try his client.

The application was, however, opposed by the Prosecutor, who insisted that the matter was fixed for continuation of trial.

Justice Abang in a short ruling said the preliminary objection would be heard at the end of the case before judgment on the substantive suit would be delivered.

After the cross examination, lawyer to the second defendant, Destra Nigeria Limited, allegedly belonging to Mr Metuh, however, expressed disappointment with the position of the court on his preliminary objection.

The Prosecutor, Sylvanus Tahir, who raised an objection to the hearing of the application said the objection was only aimed at delaying the trial.

Lawyer to Mr Metuh, Ifedayo Adedipe, who supported the hearing of the Preliminary Objection, reaffirmed his preparedness to prove the innocence of his client.

Justice Okon Abang, after listening to the testimony of the first defence witness adjourned the case to April 27 for continuation of trial.

Mr Olisa Metuh is standing trial on allegations of financial crimes preferred against him by the EFCC.

Witness Confesses Receiving 25m Naira From Metuh

MetuhA seventh witness says that he received the sum of 25 million Naira from the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Olisa Metuh, for image laundering.

Testifying in the case of criminal diversion of 400 million Naira preferred against Mr Metuh by the Federal Government, Mr Abah Dabo said that he received the said sum of money from the PDP Spokesman to manage the party and former President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of the 2015 general elections.

Dabo, who was also a former Political Adviser to former Vice President Namadi Sambo, told the court on Thursday that the money he received from Metuh on December 16, 2014 was meant for countering the negative publicity being received by President Jonathan and the PDP from the then opposition party.

He explained that he used part of the money given to him to pay for an office accommodation in Maitama district of Abuja and engaged some youths to manage a website known as ‘Whatsapp Naija’.

The witness revealed that he refunded the 25 million Naira to the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission when he read in the media that the money was part of the fund that Metuh received from the office of the National Security Adviser.

Under cross examination from the Defence lawyers, Ifedayo Adedipe and Ben Nwosu, the witness maintained that he did not know the source of funds from which the PDP spokesman paid him for his services, adding that he never asked Mr Metuh for his source of funding.

The lawyers stressed further that they were not bothered by the quality of evidence given by the seventh prosecution witness.

The court subsequently fixed February 9 for further hearing on the trial of the PDP spokesman.

Court Sets June 18 To Deliver Judgment On Fani-Kayode’s Trial

Fani-KayodeA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday fixed June 18 for judgment in the alleged money laundering case filed against a former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Rita Ofile-Ajumogobia adjourned for judgment after parties in the suit adopted their final written addresses.

At the resumed hearing on Monday, counsel to Fani-Kayode, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe, urged the court to dismiss the two-count charge against the accused and also discharge and acquit him.

He told the court that the defence relied and adopted its final written address filed on April 7, and its reply on point of law to the prosecution’s written address, dated April 27.

According to Fani-Kayode’s lawyers, the prosecution has failed woefully to prove that the accused received the alleged one million Naira, adding that no witness was brought by the EFCC to substantiate its claim.

“We are convinced that that charge cannot be sustained, because nobody was called to say he gave money to our client.

“It is now an accepted principle of law that the prosecution in all criminal cases must prove its case.

“Nobody gave evidence that he gave or saw the accused collecting money (one millon Naira). The only evidence was that of prosecution witness Supo Agbaje, whom the prosecution had declared wanted”, he said.

Responding, the counsel to the EFCC, Mr Festus Keyamo, told the court that the burden of proof had shifted to the defence to prove the source of money found on Mr Fani-Kayode.

He further stated that failure to provide the court with physical evidence of the source of money was against the Money Laundering Act.

“We have made our final written address; we have closed our case and the defense has also closed its case.

“We have done our best and we expect the court to decide one way or the other”, Keyamo said.

After eight years of legal argument, the Judge, Justice Ofili -Ajumogobia, fixed judgement for June 18.

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.