A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, to pay a fine of N200,000, over his failure to appear in court for his re-arraignment.
The presiding judge, Justice Daniel Osaigor, asked counsel to Fani-Kayode, B.F. Ajudua, to choose between revoking the bail of his client or paying the fine. Ajudua picked the fine.
Osaigor said that he had gone through the court’s file and noted five different letters by Fani-Kayode seeking adjournment on the same medical grounds.
The judge, consequently, ordered that he should pay the sum or risk revocation of his bail.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged Fani-Kayode alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Esther Usman.
Also charged is Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, and a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited.
The EFCC preferred a 17-count charge of N4.6 billion money laundering against them before Justice Mohammed Aikawa. They had all pleaded not guilty and were granted bail.
The trial had begun before Aikawa was transferred out of the Lagos judicial division.
The case was consequently assigned to Osaigor, with the defendants scheduled for re-arraignment on Wednesday.
When the case was called, Mrs Bilikisu Buhari announced an appearance for prosecution
Mr I.J. Ogechukwu appeared for the first defendant (Usman); Mr B.F. Ajudua appeared for the second defendant (Fani-Kayode) while Y. Olabode appeared for the third and fourth defendants.
Buhari informed the court that on July 15, the prosecution asked the court to adjourn the matter for re-arraignment of the defendants.
She told the court that on October 11, the prosecution received a letter from the second defendant informing them that he had been given bed rest.
Buhari told the court that letters by the second defendant had become numerous, saying that he wrote them to avoid attending court sittings.
“Whenever he doesn’t want to attend court, this is the type of letter we get,” she said.
However, Ajudua, told the court that his client’s illness was recurring, adding that he had attended court regularly. He urged the court to grant an adjournment in favour of his client.
Ruling, the judge said: “From my records, the second defendant had written to the court five times, excusing his trial on medical grounds.
He mentioned the dates the letters were written as February 1, 2018; May 30, 2019; November 24, 2020; March 21, 2021; and October 9, 2021.
“The second defendant is to pay a cost of N200,000 before the next adjourned date, as the recurring medical excuse has been a pattern that slows this trial,” the judge said.
He adjourned the case till November 30 for re-arraignment of the defendants