The presiding Judge of the Federal High Court in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Justice Daniel Osiagor on Wednesday fined former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode,N200,000 for his failure to appear in court to take his plea in a case of alleged money laundering of N4.6 billion.
Justice Osiagor also threatened to revoke the bail of the former Minister if he failed to appear in court the next adjourned date.
The protracted trial of the former Minister who is standing trial alongside former Minister of Finance, Mrs Nenadi Esther Usman and the former Chairman of ALGON, Danjuma Yusuf and a Limited liability Company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited, started sometime in 2016, when they were first arraigned before Justice Sule Muslim Hassan, who was later elevated to the Court of Appeal.
Before then, the case file was transferred to Justice Rilwan Aikawa, on the ground that Justice Hassan, was formerly a legal officer with the prosecuting agency (EFCC).
However, while the matter was pending before Justice Aikawa, the defendants pleas were re-taken, thereafter, Justice Aikawa was transferred to Akure division of the court, hence the case file was re-assigned to the new Judge, Justice Daniel Osiagor, for the matter to start afresh.
At the resumed hearing of the matter today, the EFCC prosecutor, Mrs. Bilikisu Buhari, informed the court that the matter was to start afresh, but that Femi Fani-kayode, who is the second defendant was not in court to take his plea.
The prosecutor, therefore, urged the court to revoke his bail.
However, Fani-kayode’s counsel, F. B. Ajudua, pleaded with the court not to revoke his bail, saying that a letter has been written on behalf of his client, that he is currently on ‘bed rest’, at Kubwa General Hospital, Abuja.
Ajudua also told the court that Fani-kayode, has been attending his trial since the matter commenced in 2016, and that today was the only day that he was not in court.
Ajudua, while apologizing for Fani-kayode’s absence, urged the court not to revoke his bail, and also asked for a short adjounment.
However, Justice Osiagor, while perusing the Court’s records, discovered that Fani-kayode had absented himself from the court for five times, the development which the judge said has stalled the smooth trial of the charge.
Consequently, Justice Osiagor, gave two options of either to revoke his bail or a fine of N200, 000 and his counsel opted for the option of fine.
Thereafter, Justice Osiagor, while adjourning till 30th November 2021 fined the former Minister N200, 000. 00, which he ordered must be paid before the next adjourned date.