The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is to commence afresh the prosecution of a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode and three others at the Federal High Court, Abuja on alleged misappropriation of N4.6bn and money laundering.
Counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN) told Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday that this move became necessary following last week’s judgement of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, which quashed the charges.
Oyedepo said that in view of the judgement of the Court of Appeal, all exhibits and documents tendered by the prosecution should be released to enable the Commission commence the matter afresh at the Federal High Court, Abjua.
Justice Osiagor subsequently ordered the release of all exhibits and documents tendered before the court during the hearing of the matter back to the EFCC.
Last week Thursday, via zoom, Justice Mohammed Danjuma of the Court of Appeal had delivered judgement on an appeal filed by one of Fani-Kayode’s co-defendants, former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, Lagos to hear the matter. The appellant also submitted that the charge as filed before the Lagos court was defective.
The appeal court unanimously resolved the issues in favour of the appellant and also held that the Federal High Court in Lagos lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.
The appellate court also held that the facts of the case showed that all the transactions carried out by the Defendants took place in Abuja, hence the Federal High Court Abuja has jurisdiction to hear the case.
Justice Fatima Akinbami and Justice Onyekachi Otisi agreed with the judgment.
It would be recalled however that in an earlier appeal filed by Fani-Kayode in 2019, another panel of the same court of appeal led by Justice Mohammed Garba had agreed with the EFCC that “some act forming part of the offence or at least the consequence of it happened in Lagos”. The court had therefore held that the Federal High Court, Lagos had jurisdiction to hear the suit.
The EFCC subsequently rearraigned the defendants before Justice Daniel Osiagor after the previous trial judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa was transferred out of the Lagos division.
In the suit, Fani-Kayode is charged alongside a former Minister of State for Finance Nenandi Usman; a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) Yusuf Danjuma, and a company Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Ltd.
They were alleged to have at various times between Jan. & March 2015, unlawfully retained over N4.6 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of unlawful acts of stealing and corruption.
In counts 15 to 17, Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke, who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125, Lewis St., Igbosere, Lagos.
The said payments were alleged to have been made in excess of amounts allowed by law without going through a financial institution.
All offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
The defendants had however each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.