Alleged $2.1bn arms scam: Absence of ex-Aviation Minister, Fani-Kayode, stalls trial continuation

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The absence of the former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, stalled the trial continuation.

When the court registrar called the case, though Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji, SAN, was in court, the former minister, who is the sole defendant in the suit with number: FHC/ABJ/CR/140/2016 before Justice John Tsoho, was conspicuously absent.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had, on Nov. 10, 2016, arraigned Fani-Kayode for allegedly receiving N26m from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

Some fresh money laundering charges were earlier filed against him by the EFCC before the same court in Abuja.

The anti-graft agency, in the fresh case, filed a five-count charge in which it accused the defendant of diverting N26m allegedly received from the ONSA while Col. Sambo Dasuki (retrd.) was in office.

The anti-graft agency also accused him of handling the said N26m without going through financial institution as required under the Money Laundering Act.

At the resumed trial on Tuesday, the EFCC lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, told Justice Tsoho that the commission was ready for trial continuation.

However, Counsel to the former minister, Raji, apologised to the court on Fani-Kayode’s behalf.

He explained that the defendant was unaware of the new date because the court did not sit in the last adjourned date.

According to him, we were not aware of the case coming today because this matter was not adjourned.

He said the information on the new adjourned date came from the court registry.

“My Lord, I apologies on behalf of the defendant,” he said.

He, however, told the court that the prosecution had agreed with him to adjourn the matter till March subject to the convenience of the court.

Reacting, Abubakar, who was unhappy, said it was the duty of the lawyer to inform the defendant of the new adjourned date.

He, however, urged the court to note that the adjournment was not at the EFCC’s instance but the instance of the defence.

Justice Tsoho, then, adjourned the matter till March 10 and 11 respectively for trial continuation.



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