Former minister of Aviation Chief Femi Fani-Kayode on Wednesday urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to decline jurisdiction of his ongoing trial for money laundering and transfer the case to the Abuja division of the court.
Fani-Kayode in the application argued that the facts of the case show that all the transactions which he carried out as Director of Media and Publicity of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, for which he was charged, took place in Abuja.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) re-arraigned Fani-Kayode and Senator Nenadi Usman and one Danjuma Yusuf and a company, Joint Trust Dimensions Limited before Justice Mohammed Aikawa on a 17 count charge of conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering.
According to the EFC the accused persons on or before January 2015, unlawfully retained the total sum of N4.6 billion, which they knew was proceeds from an unlawful act.
While Usman, former Minister of Finance, under president Goodluck Jonathan Administration, Danjuma Yusuf and Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited retained the sum of N1.5 billion, Fani-kayode and Olubode Oke, said to be at large, were accused of retained the total sum of N1,650,650 billion.
The accused persons were also alleged to have made payment of several amounts running to billions of Naira without going through Financial institutions.
The offence which was allegedly committed between January 2015 and March 2015 is contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) & 4 of the same Act.
They pleaded not guilty to the charge.
While arguing the application yesterday, Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, Norrison Quakers (SAN), insisted that the court lacked the jurisdiction to try the case in Lagos.
He argued that since the subject matter of the case allegedly occurred in Abuja and because his client who does not stays in Lagos has another trial currently going on in Abuja the court cannot conduct the trial in Lagos.
But, EFCC’s lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo urged the court to refuse the application.
Oyedepo maintained that the instruments of transactions, including cheques and receipts, “were recovered in Lagos.”
He submitted, “The financial institutions used in the transactions have their head offices in Lagos.”
The lawyer also said 13 of the prosecution’s 17 witnesses live in Lagos, adding that the application was only using the application to delay the case.
Oyedepo further said Fani-Kayode’s counsel also raised the issue of transfer before Justice Hassan, yet the Chief Judge, re-assigned the case to another judge in Lagos rather than one in Abuja.
“The consequence of the alleged offence of money laundering is not limited to Abuja, but the entire federation. All the instruments of transaction were brought by Zenith Bank in Lagos,” he said.
Before the application for transfer was moved, Oyedepo had sought to tender receipts showing that Fani-Kayode made a cash payment of N30million to the first prosecution witness, a media consultant, Adewumi Idowu.
The EFCC sought to tender the two receipts acknowledging cash payments of N24 million and N6 million, but Quakers objected on the basis that they were not the originals.
Justice Aikawa adjourned till September 26 and 27 for ruling and continuation of trial.