N4.6bn Fraud: Judge Hands Off Fani-Kayode, Usman, Others’ Trial




 
Justice Muslim Sule Hassan of  the Federal High Court , Lagos has withdrew himself from the trial of  two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  chieftains, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Mrs. Esther Nnenadi Usman and two others over an alleged N4.6billion fraud.

The two PDP chieftains were also former ministers.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on June 28, 2016 arraigned  Fani-Kayode who was a former Minister of Aviation; former Minister of State for Finance, Mrs Usman; one, Danjuma Yusuf and a company, John Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited on a 17-count charge of alleged N4.6billion fraud before the court.

Fani-Kayode had, however, in an application through his lawyer, Norrison Quakers (SAN)  asked the judge to hands off from the matter on the ground of alleged bias.

The former Minister and his co-accused are also seeking for the transfer of the case to the Abuja Division of the court.

In a ruling on the matter Thursday, Justice Hassan, while yielding to Fani-Kayode’s request asking him to withdraw from the matter, said he will transfer the case file to the Chief Judge of the court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for re-assignment to another judge.

According to the judge, even though no evidence has been placed before the court by Fani-Kayode to buttress his claim of bias, he will ‘hands off’ the case in the interest of justice.

He said it was a open fact that he prepared the charge preferred against Fani-Kayode by EFCC  in 2008, being the head legal department of the commission then but he never participated in the prosecution of Fani kayode, as such was prosecuted by Mr. Festus Keyamo.

"It is not in dispute that I signed the charge, as the head of legal, but I never prosecute or partake in the prosecution of the charge

"The defendant/applicant has not shown proof of bias or likelihood of being bias in this case.

"The law is trite, in the like of all that I have said above, I am
satisfied that the best is to transfer the case file to Chief Judge for
re-assignment to another judge", the judge held.

Both the prosecution and defendants'  counsel commended the judge for the
ruling.
Before the trial was cut short, prosecution had opened its case against the accused persons, by calling its first witness, Mr. Idowu Olusegun, a media consultant, which testified on the role he played in alleged offence.

In counts one to seven of the charge, the accused persons were alleged to have unlawfully retained over
N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.

In counts eight to 14, the accused were alleged to have unlawfully used
over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.

And in counts 15 to17 Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million, in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial
institution.

Besides, Fani-Kayode was alleged to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.

All offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15
(3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money laundering (prohibition)
(Amendment) Act, 2012.


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