THE Money laundering trial of Chief Femi Fani-kayode was stalled yesterday at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Mr. Fani-Kayode, who was absent in court, and Nenadi Usman, a former minister of state for finance, are facing a 17-count of money laundering amounting to N4.6 billion.
Also joined as a defendant is Yusuf Danjuma, a former National Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) and Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.
They were re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in May, last year, after the earlier judge, Muslim Hassan, recused himself from the trial on the grounds that he was the EFCC officer who signed a criminal charge filed against him.
The 17 counts preferred against them border on conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering.
When the case was called, only Usman and Danjuma stepped into the dock.
Before lawyers announced their appearances, Justice Rilwan asked why Fani-Kayode was not present.
Kayode’s lawyer Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN) told Justice Rilwan Aikawa that the former minister complained about “heart-related ailment” and could not make it to court for his trial.
The courtroom then broke into a suppressed laughter after he made the complaint insisting that the former minister’s illness should be taken seriously due to recent cases of heart-related deaths.
“It is not a laughing matter.
“They said he was complaining of a heart-related pain. We have seen recent cases of heart-related deaths. On Friday, a lawyer collapsed and died while addressing the court,” Mr. Quakers, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said, as his colleagues and their clients struggled to hush their laugh.
He continued, “The second defendant is unusually absent in court today as a result of a health challenge which information was relayed to me by the wife.
“In that regard, I have requested for a medical report and hoping that same will get to me before the close of work because the second defendant lives and carries out his business outside the jurisdiction of this court, in Abuja.
“My humble application is for us to come back tomorrow so I can furnish the court with the medical report,” Quakers said.
The minister’s absence stalled his trial for alleged money laundering.
Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to the EFCC, did not oppose the application.
But he reminded the court of the provisions of Section 396(d) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which stipulates that both the prosecution and defence are entitled to not more than five adjournments each during a trial.
“They have taken two now,” Mr. Oyedepo added.
Mr. Quakers, however, argued that he had used only one adjournment.
Justice Aikawa adjourned till February 28, March 1 and 2 for continuation of trial.