A Federal High Court in Abuja was unable to proceed with the trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani- Kayode, as scheduled on Wednesday because of the ex-minister’s ill health.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had on November 11, 2016, arraigned Fani-Kayode on five charges involving alleged diversion of N26m which he allegedly received from the then National Security Adviser, Sambo Dsuki, under the guise of payment for a contract.
The ex-minister allegedly received the money from the Office of the National Security Adviser while he was the Director of Media and Publicity in the campaign organisation of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
Fani-Kayode allegedly received the money from the ONSA when he “reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of Dasuki and the then Director of Finance and Administration of the ONSA, Shuaibu Salisu”.
The EFCC also accused the former minister of transacting with the said N26m without going through financial institution as required under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
Justice John Tsoho had fixed Wednesday for commencement of trial, but the proceedings were stalled because of Fani-Kayode’s absence from court.
The ex-minister’s lawyer, Mr. Wale Balogun, who apologised to the judge for his client’s absence, said the defendant had wished to be present in court on Wednesday out of respect for the court but that the doctor advised the defendant against the idea.
The defence lawyer, who did not mention the nature of Fani-Kayode’s ailment, also showed the judge a letter from an undisclosed hospital where the former minister was said to be receiving treatment.
Balogun, therefore, asked for an adjournment of the case.
Responding to the judge’s question on whether or not he had an objection to the request for an adjournment, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Johnson Ojogbane, confirmed that he had been shown the medical report on Fani-Kayode’s health status.
He said he would not object to the request for an adjournment since it was the first time the defence would be asking for an adjournment.
Justice Tsoho then adjourned till February 6.
Fani-Kayode was already standing trial along with others in the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court with respect of the ONSA funds.
Part of the charges against the ex-minister read, “That you Chief Femi Fani-Kayode on or about November 24, 2014 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court directly took possession or control of the sum of N26,000,000.00 paid through one Victor Ehiabhi by one Salisu Shuaibu who was then the Director of Finance and Administration on the instruction of Col. Mohammed Dasuki, former National Security Adviser purporting the money to be payment for a contract when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki and Shuaibu Salisu, to wit: criminal breach of trust and corruption, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2), (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under section 158 of the same Act.”