A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the prison remand of a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, and two others over an alleged fraud of N4.9bn. Justice Suleiman Hassan gave the remand order shortly after Fani-Kayode, Nenadi Usman and Danjuma Yusuf were arraigned before him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The judge said the three accused persons were to remain in the prison custody pending the determination of their bail applications, the hearing of which has been fixed for Friday. Joined with Fani-Kayode, Usman and Yusuf in the 17 counts filed by the EFCC was a company, Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited.
The charges bordered on conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering. Fani-Kayode, who was the spokesperson for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign organisation for the 2015 election, was accused of conspiring with others to directly and indirectly retain various sums, which the EFCC claimed they ought to have reasonably known were proceeds of theft.
The accused persons were said to have allegedly committed the offences between January 8, 2015 and March 25, 2015 in the build-up to the general elections.
In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Fani-Kayode, who it listed as the 2nd defendant in the charge sheet, and his co-defendants conspired among themselves to “indirectly retain the sum of N1,500, 000,000.00, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing.”
The EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the said conspiracy and indirect retention of the N1.5bn constituted an offence under Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3)( 4) of the same Act.
In another count, the EFCC alleged that Fani-Kayode “directly retained the sum of N350m,” which the anti-graft agency claimed that he ought to have “reasonably known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing.”
Fani-Kayode was accused of directly using parts of the money at various times, including a N250,650,000.00, which he allegedly used between March 20 and 25, 2015.
Fani-Kayode was also accused of making a cash transaction of N24m with one Olubode Oke, said to still be at large, on February 12, 2015 “to Paste Poster Co of 125, Lewis Street, Lagos Island.”
The duo were said to have made the transaction without going through any financial institution, an act the EFCC claimed was contrary to sections 1(a) and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act. But upon reading the charges to them on Tuesday, all the accused persons pleaded not guilty.
Counsel for Fani-Kayode, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), and that of Usman, Mr. S. I. Ameh (SAN), subsequently informed the court that they had filed applications for the bail of their clients. On his own part, Yusuf’s counsel, Mr. Fred Orbih, who also indicated his plan to apply for his client’s bail, however, said he had yet to do so.
In a short ruling, Justice Hassan adjourned the case till Friday for hearing of the three bail applications. The judge, however, ordered the remand of the accused persons in prison till the hearing of the bail applications. The EFCC listed 17 witnesses that will testify against the defendants when the trial commences.