Hearing resumed in the money laundering trial of former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode on Monday with Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court in Lagos directing the former Minister to take his plea in the money laundering charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Fani-Kayode’s counsel, Ifedayo Adedipe had argued that the charge was invalid and as such, his client would not enter any plea.
While ruling on the defence counsel’s objection however, the judge averred that the charge is valid.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia thereafter fixed March 5 for Fani-Kayode’s re-arraignment on an amended 40-count charges.
At the last attempt to re-arraign the former Minister, Adedipe raised an objection after the first count was read. He argued that the charge was invalid as the facts were incomplete. The charge stated that Fani-Kayode “accepted cash payments”, but did not specify who gave him the money.
Adedipe said his objection was based on Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
He said “the accused person is alleged to have received money from a nameless, anonymous person. We have to know the person so we can know who to address. As it is, the charge is vague. They alleged that he ‘accepted’. When you accuse somebody of accepting money, clearly the person from whom the money was accepted becomes important. The other charges there… one of them accused him of having his wife pay money into his account. These charges cannot be valid.”
In the opinion of Festus Keyamo, the prosecuting counsel, “the concealment of the giver of the money which is subject to investigation by an accused person cannot defeat a charge of money laundering. If we accept the argument of defence, it means that all an accused person can do to defeat the effort of the prosecution is to refuse to disclose from where he derives any large sum of money found on him. That will be preposterous and will defeat the object of the law.”