Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court in Lagos has imposed a cost of N200,000 on a former minister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, over his failure to appear before the court for re-arraignment.
Fani-Kayode is standing trial before the court alongside former minister of finance, Nenadi Usman and two others on a 17-count charge of conspiracy and laundering N4.6 billion but due to the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, the matter was resigned to Justice Osiagor, who had fixed yesterday for all the defendants to take their pleas.
But when the matter came up for hearing, the former minister was not in court instead he sent a letter claiming that his doctors had placed him on bed rest at Kubwa General Hospital, Abuja,.
Other defendants in the trial, which started in 2016, are Yusuf Danjuma, a former chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and a company, Jointtrust Dimensions Nigeria Ltd.
The defendants, who were accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to have committed the offences between January and March 2015 all pleaded not guilty to the charge.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday, a lawyer from the EFCC, Mrs Bilikisu Buhari, told Justice Osaigor that on July 15, the prosecution had moved the court to adjourn the matter for a re-arraignment of the defendant but on October 11, it received a letter from the second defendant informing them that he had been placed on bed rest.
However, Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, Jonathan Ajudua, said although the defendant’s illness was a recurring one, he had nonetheless attended court regularly and that this can be seen from the court’s records.