Court Clears Fani-Kayode Of Money Laundering Charges

Court Clears Fani-Kayode Of Money Laundering ChargesA Federal High Court in Lagos in south-west Nigeria has discharged and acquitted a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, of money laundering charges.

Delivering her judgement on Wednesday, the judge, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, said the prosecution’s case was “feeble” and failed to provide “copious evidence” linking Mr Fani-Kayode to money laundering.

After the judgement, Mr Fani-Kayode told reporters that the verdict was the “doing of the lord” and an end to a nightmare.

Want Of Proof

Mr Fani-Kayode, trial began in 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed, after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed a case against him for allegedly laundering about 100 million Naira (about $500,000) while he was the Minister of Culture and Tourism and subsequently, Aviation.

The allegedly laundered sum was, however, reduced to 2.1 million Naira on November 17, 2014 after the court dismissed 38 of the 40-count charge levelled against Mr Fani-Kayode for want of proof.

The anti-graft agency’s prosecutor, Festus Keyamo, at that time urged the court to uphold the remaining two counts and to also convict Mr Fani-Kayode, as he could not exonerate himself of the allegations.

Mr Keyamo said: “The object of the charge is that Mr Fani-Kayode transacted in cash sums above 500,000 Naira, which was the threshold stipulated by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act”.

He had argued that Mr Fani-Kayode admitted making such transactions in his confessional statement made to the anti-graft agency on December 22, 2008.

‘Proven Beyond Doubts’

According to him, “transactions which are done without going through financial institutions, is what comes under the definition of money laundering” and these are the charges against the accused person.

“Once you cannot explain the source of the large sum of money found on you, you are guilty of money laundering. If the prosecution must show where the money is coming from, then the whole essence of the money laundering law is defeated.

“It is not in all cases that the burden of proof lies on the prosecution; the burden at this point shifts to the accused person,” Mr Keyamo further argued.

However, a counsel to Mr Fani-Kayode, Ifedayo Adedipe, in his summary argument, maintained that Mr Fani-Kayode made no confession to the EFCC, as claimed.

He argued that the anti-graft agency failed to show that Mr Fani-Kayode accepted a cash sum of one million Naira as alleged, claiming that the EFCC also failed to show to the court the person who handed the cash sum to the accused person.

Mr Adedipe further stated that for the case of the prosecution to succeed, it had to be proven beyond reasonable doubts.

Court Adjourns Fani-Kayode’s Money Laundering Case To July 1

Court Adjourns Fani-Kayode's Money Laundering Case To July 1A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi in Lagos State, south-west Nigeria, has adjourned  to July 1, the 2.1 million Naira money laundering suit against former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia had fixed Thursday for the judgement after the adoption of final written addresses and arguments by the defence and prosecution counsel.

She cited the absence of Prosecuting Counsel, Festus Keyamo, as reason for not delivering the judgement.

The trial in the case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) began in 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed, with an initial charge of laundering about 230 million Naira while Mr Fani-Kayode was a Federal Minister.

The charge was later amended and the amount reduced to 100 million Naira and finally 2.1 million Naira, with the judge dismissing 38 out of the 40 counts leveled by the EFCC against Mr Fani-Kayode.

Fani-Kayode was the Director of Media and Publicity for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation during the 2015 elections.

Court Sets November 17 To Hear Fani-Kayode’s No Case Submission

Femii_Fani-KayodeA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, has fixed November 17, to rule on a ‘no-case submission’ filed by a former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode.

Mr Fani-Kayode, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and is standing trial on an amended 40 count charge, of laundering about N100m.

In the ‘no case submission’, he argues that the EFCC has not succeeded in linking him to the charges, a situation which warrants him to make no defence.

Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele reports that the case against the former aviation minister will be dismissed if the court agrees with him and upholds his no case Submission.

At today’s sitting, the former minister’s Counsel, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), informed the court of the application for the no case submission and urged the court to adopt his submissions & discharge his client of all 40 counts of money laundering.

The lawyer argued that even though the statement of account of the accused person was put in evidence for which he was required by the prosecution to make explanations, such statement was not prima facie evidence of crime.

Citing the authority of Abacha vs State, the lawyer stressed that by the decision of the Supreme Court, such statements of account could only amount to mere suspicion, suspicion which no matter how well placed, did not constitute a prima facie case.

The prosecutor, Mr Festus Keyamo, has however opposed the no case submission, and called on the former minister to put his defence forward.

He corrected the notion that the prosecution’s case does not concern lodgement, but transactions which took place before the lodgement.

According to him, “transactions which are done without going through financial institutions, is what comes under the definition of money laundering” and these are the charges against the accused person.

He therefore, urged the court to uphold the objection of the prosecution.

After listening to the submissions of counsels, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned the case to November 17 for ruling.

The former minister, Fani-Kayode was first arraigned sometime in December 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed on a 47-count 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.

He was re-arraigned before Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako, following the transfer of Justice Mohammed from the Lagos Division of the court.

The accused was again re-arraigned before Justice Ajumogobia on February 11, 2013 after the transfer of Justice Murtala-Nyako.

He was again re-arraigned before Ajumogobia on March 6, following the amendment of the 47-count charge to 40-counts, the EFCC having dropped seven of the counts.

Ajumogobia is the third judge to be ceased of the case in the last five years.

The EFCC opened its case before Justice Ajumogobia on March 10, calling a total of six witnesses including: Investigating Police Officers (IPOs), bank legal officers, bank relationship officer and a former aide to Fani-Kayode.

All witnesses had given various testimonies, as to their relationship with the accused, as well as the manner of investigations conducted on him.

The EFCC closed its case on July 10, while the defence counsel elected to file a no case submission on behalf of the accused on August 5. In the charge, the accused was alleged to have transacted with funds exceeding N500, 000 without going through a financial institution.

The accused was also alleged to have accepted cash payments in the tune of about N100 million, while he held sway as Minister of Aviation and Minister of Culture and Tourism respectively.

The offence is said to contravene the provisions of Sections 15(1) (a) (b) (c) (d) and 15 (2) (a) (b) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act, 2004.

Appeal Court Reserves Judgment In Ladoja’s Case

The Court of Appeal sitting in Igbosere, Lagos Island, has reserved judgement in the suit instituted by former governor of Oyo State, Chief Rasheed Ladoja, against the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
The court reserved judgment after taking arguments from lawyers in the matter.
The former governor had approached the appellate court to seek an order to quash the 4.7 billion Naira corruption charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2007.
Rasheed Ladoja had argued that the proof of evidence placed before the trial court by the EFCC had no nexus with the charge against him, and also did not establish any prima facie case against him. The former governor consequently prayed the appellate court to hold that the anti-graft agency had no power, jurisdiction or authority to file any criminal charge against him.
The anti-graft agency had arraigned the former governor before Justice Ramat Mohammed, who was then sitting at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos on November 2008, alongside his former aide, Mr Waheed Akanbi, on an amended 10-count charge of laundering 4.7 billion Naira belonging to the Oyo State government.
The duo were alleged to have conspired to convert properties and resources derived from an alleged illegal act, with the intention of concealing the illicit origin of the properties and resources.
The anti-graft agency also alleged that the embattled former governor used about 42 million Naira to purchase an Armoured Land Cruiser Jeep, and remitted about 600,000.00 pounds to one Bimpe Ladoja in London. But the duo pleaded not guilty to the charge and have been on bail since.

Channels Television’s judiciary Correspondent, Shola Soyele, reports that the court is expected to communicate the date for delivery of judgment on the case to the lawyers as soon as it is ready.

Fani-Kayode’s trial adjourned to October

The trial of the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, on allegations of money laundering has been fixed for the 10th of October, by Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako of a Federal High Court in Lagos.

The judge fixed the date after she turned down his request to stay further proceedings in the matter pending the determination of an appeal he filed at the Supreme Court on the admissibility of his statements of account as evidence by the Court of Appeal.

Fani-Kayode’s counsel, Chris Uche (SAN),had informed the court that a motion exhibiting the Certified True Copy(CTC) and the notice of hearing of the matter has been filed at the Supreme Court.

He thereafter urged the court to adjourn the matter pending the determination of the appeal.

This request was however opposed by counsel the Economic and financial Crimes Commision (EFCC), Nelson Okedinachi, who insisted that the defence team is only looking for an avenue to stall the matter.

He argued that the appeal before the Supreme Court is merely an academic exercise since the matter is to start afresh before Justice Binta Murtala Nyako.

He then urged the court to discountenance the motion and fix a date for the trial of the accused person.

Justice Nyako however declined to stay proceedings on the grounds that the appeal had only to do with the admissibility of a document and nothing to do with the matter before her.
She then adjourned the matter to the 10th of October for hearing.

The former Minister on the 16th of February, 2012, was re-arraigned by the EFCC on a 47-counts of money laundering before Justice Binta Murtala Nyako.

His re-arraignment was occasioned by the re-assignment of the case by the Chief Judge owing to the transfer of Justice Ramat Mohammed who was handling the matter before.

Mr Femi Fani Kayode had earlier been arraigned on a similar charge before Justice Ramat Mohammed in December, 2008.