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Alleged N4.6bn Fraud: Fani-Kayode, Others Violated Money Laundering Act – EFCC

FEMI FANI-KAYODE 
***As Judge Throws Out Fani-Kayode's Involuntary Statement Claim

By Francis Iwuchukwu, Lagos 

The claim made by Nigeria’s former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, that the extrajudicial statements he made at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, were not voluntary, was on Monday (today) dismantled by Justice Rilwan Aikawa of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria.

It would be recalled that Fani-Kayode had prior to this time distanced himself from the statements while answering questions over allegation of money laundering involving about N4.6billion, made against him by the Commission.

Fani-Kayode had then urged the court not to admit them in evidence.

Specifically, the anti-graft agency brought before the court, Fani-Kayode, who held sway as Director of Publicity of the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2015, alongside former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman.

The duo were arraigned with the former Association of Local Government of Nigeria, ALGON, Chairman and ex-Chairman of Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Yusuf Danjuma, and a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited.

In the same manner as Fani-Kayode, the other defendants equally denied their statements.

In their argument before Justice Aikawa, lawyers to the defence, Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), Norrison Quakers (SAN) and Clement Onwuenwuenor, prayed the court to issue an order for a trial-within-trial, to test the voluntariness of the statements.

However, lawyer to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, insisted that the statements were voluntarily made, adding that there was no need for a trial-within-trial.

In his ruling, Justice Aikawa held that a trial-within-trial is only necessary where a statement sought to be admitted “is manifestly confessional.”

“In the present case, none of the statements is confessional. 

“A trial-within-trial is therefore unnecessary,” Justice Aikawa added.

The judge also insisted that the statements complied with the provisions of Section 17 (1) and (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which provides that someone must be present to witness a statement.

The anti-graft agency had accused Fani-Kayode and others of violating the Money Laundering Act by indirectly retaining N300million, N400million and N800million, all proceeds of corruption.

Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Nenadi Esther Usman, Femi Fani-Kayode, Danjuman Yusuf and Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd on or about the 8th day of January, 2015, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves 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.”

Also, Fani-Kayode was accused of making a cash transaction of N24million with one Olubode Oke, said to still be at large, on February 12, 2015 “to Paste Poster Company of 125, Lewis Street, Lagos Island,” contrary to the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

But the defendants argued before Justice Aikawa that they are not guilty.

The matter has been adjourned till July 4, 2019 for trial to continue.

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