Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has been fined the sum of N200,000 for failing to appear in court to take his plea in an alleged N4.6 billion fraud.
Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, awarded the fine to Fani-Kayode, who was also the Chairman of the 2015 Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation , and is standing trial alongside Nenadi Usman, a former Minister of Finance, Danjuma Yusuf, a former National Chairman of the Association of Local Government Of Nigeria (ALGON) and a limited liability company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.
TheFact Nigeria reports that the trial of the defendants, which had first commenced in 2016 before Justice Muslim S.Hassan, had suffered several setbacks as it had to be stalled on several occasions due to the absence of the defendants, and the transfer of the case to other judges.
Midway into the trial before Justice Hassan, who has since been elevated to the Court of Appeal, the case file was transferred to Justice Rilwan Aikawa. While the matter was pending before Justice Aikawa, the defendants’ pleas were taken.
Again, midway into the defendants’ trial, Justice Aikawa was transferred to another jurisdiction of the court, as a result of which, the case file was transferred to the new Judge, Justice Osiagor for the matter to start afresh.
At the resumed sitting today, the prosecution counsel, Bilikisu Buhari, told the court that the matter was to start afresh. However, Fani-Kayode, who is the second defendant, was not in court to take his plea. Buhari, therefore, urged the court to revoke his bail.
In his response, Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, F. B. Ajudua, pleaded with the court not to revoke his client’s bail.
“A letter has been written on his behalf. He is currently on bed rest at Kubwa General Hospital, Abuja”, Ajudua said, adding that, he has been attending his trial since the matter commenced in 2016, and that, “today … is the only day that he is not in court”.
Ajudua therefore prayed the court not to revoke Fani-Kayode’s bail, while also asking for a short adjournment.
However, the Judge, after going through the Court’s records, discovered that Fani-Kayode had been absent from court five times, which, according to the Judge, had “stalled the smooth hearing of the charge.”
Justice Osiagor, therefore, held that he would either revoke Fani-Kayode’s bail or fine him N200, 000.00. Ajudua opted for the latter option.
Consequently, Justice Osiagor ordered Fani-Kayode to a fine of N200, 000, 00, which must be paid before the next adjourned date.
The matter was adjourned till November 30, 2021 for the re-arraignment of the defendants.
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