Femi Fani-Kayode, a former minister of aviation in Nigeria, and three other persons are set to face new charges of money laundering and theft at the Federal High Court in Abuja from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC’s attorney, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), explained to Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday that the action was required as a result of the Court of Appeal’s Lagos Division’s decision to throw out the charges last week.
According to Oyedepo, all evidence and documents submitted by the prosecution should be made public in light of the Court of Appeal’s ruling so that the Commission can reopen the case in the Federal High Court in Abjua.
After then, Justice Osiagor ruled that the EFCC should be given all exhibits and documents that were presented to the court during the hearing of the case.
On Thursday last week, Justice Mohammed Danjuma of the Court of Appeal rendered a decision regarding an appeal brought by one of Fani-Kayode’s co-defendants, former Minister of Finance Nenadi Usman, challenging the Federal High Court in Lagos’ jurisdiction to hear the case. Additionally, the appellant claimed that the charge as it was presented to the Lagos court was flawed.
The Federal High Court in Lagos lacks authority to make a ruling in this case, according to the appellate court, which unanimously decided the issues in favor of the appellant.
The appellate court further determined that because all of the Defendants’ transactions occurred in Abuja, the Federal High Court in Abuja has jurisdiction to hear the matter. The verdict was supported by Justices Onyekachi Otisi and Fatima Akinbami.
However, it should be recalled that in an earlier appeal submitted by Fani-Kayode in 2019 and heard by a different panel of the same court of appeals headed by Justice Mohammed Garba, the EFCC had prevailed 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
After Justice Rilwan Aikawa, the previous trial judge, was relocated out of the Lagos division, the EFCC re-arrested the defendants before Justice Daniel Osiagor.
Nenandi Usman, a former chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Yusuf Danjuma, and the business Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Ltd. are also named as defendants in the lawsuit that includes Fani-Kayode.
They were accused of illegally keeping more than N4.6 billion between January and March 2015, which they knew or should have known was part of the proceeds of theft and corruption.
In counts 15 to 17, Fani-Kayode and a man named Olubode Oke—who is reportedly still at large—were accused of paying N30 million in cash to a company called Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No. 125, Lewis St., Igbosere, Lagos.
The claimed payments were made without going through a financial institution and were in excess of what was permitted by law.
The Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act of 2012’s sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) were said to have been violated by each offense. However, the accused had all entered not guilty pleas and had been released on bond.
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