BY GODWIN OBI
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered a former Minister Of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, to pay a fine of N200,000 for being absent at his re-arraignment or stand the risk of having his bail revoked.
Justice Daniel Osaigor gave the order on Wednesday, saying that having gone through the court’s file, he observed five different letters by the defendant seeking adjournment on the same medical grounds.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged Fani-Kayode alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenandi Usman, one Danjuma Yusuf, a former Chairman of ALGON, and a limited liability company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.
The EFCC preferred 17 counts of money laundering to the tune of N4.6 billion against them before Justice Mohammed Aikawa who was initially the trial judge until he was transferred out of the Lagos Jurisdiction.
They all, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.
The case was subsequently, assigned to a new judge, Justice Osaigor, and the defendants were scheduled for re-arraignment on Wednesday (October 13).
When the case was called, Mrs Bilikisu Buhari announced the appearance for the prosecution.
The prosecutor told the court that on July 15, the prosecution had moved the court to adjourn the matter for a re-arraignment of the defendants.
She said that on October 11, the prosecution received a letter from the second defendant informing them that he had been given bed rest.
The prosecutor told the court that these letters by the second defendant had become numerous and had also become an excuse for him to evade court.
“This is the third time he will be writing this type of letter from the same hospital
“Whenever he doesn’t want to attend court, this is the type of letter we get,” she said.
But, Fani-Kayode’s counsel, Bobo Fred-Ajudua, cut in and informed the court that although Fani-Kayode’s illness was a recurring one, he had attended court regularly, and this can be shown from the court’s records.
He urged the court to kindly grant an adjournment in favour of the second defendant.
At this point, the trial judge decided to go through the court’s file, and after searching, the court discovered that the second defendant had actually sought similar medical excuse five times.
The court then asked the defense counsel to take one of two options which were: to either revoke the bail of the second defendant or to impose a fine of N200,000 to be paid before the next trial date.
The defence counsel chose the latter option.