Crime/DefenseLegal/Judiciary

Alleged forgery: Former aviation minister, Fani-Kayode arraigned

Nigeria’s former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode was on Friday (today) arraigned before Justice Oluwabunmi Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos State.

He was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 12 count charge bordering on the use of false documents, use of fabricated evidence, procuring the execution of documents by false pretence, and fabricating evidence.

One of the counts read: “That you, Femi Fani-Kayode, on or about the 11th day of October 2021 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, by fraudulent representation procured one Dr Ogieva Oziegbe to execute a document titled: MEDICAL REPORT ON OLUFEMI FANI KAYODE 60 YEARS/MALE/HOSP. NO. 00345 DATED 11/10/2021 and procured the same to have been issued by Kubwa General Hospital.”

Another count reads: “That you, Femi Fani-Kayode, on or about the 11th day of October 2021 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, fraudulently used a false document titled: MEDICAL REPORT ON OLUFEMI FANI KAYODE 60 YEARS/MALE/HOSP. NO. 00345 DATED 11/10/2021 before the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division in Charge No. FHC/L/251C/2016 which document you purported to have been issued by Kubwa General Hospital.”

But Fani-Kayode pleaded not guilty to the charge after the same was read to him.

Before his arraignment, the trial judge had in a ruling overruled the application by the defence counsel, Wale Balogun, on December 14, 2021, when Fani-Kayode ought to have been arraigned.

Balogun had notified the Court of the defendant’s application challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the matter and argued that the defendant could not take his plea until the pending application on jurisdiction was determined.

However, the anti-graft agency through its counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, had countered the arguments canvassed by the defence, stressing that, “The pendency or mere filing of an objection to the charge will not prevent the Court from taking the plea of the defendant.”

In her ruling, Justice Abike-Fadipe held that: “Before the Court proceeds to take the preliminary objections raised by the defendant to the charges preferred against him by the prosecution, the charges must be read to him.”

Following Fani-Kayode’s plea, the prosecuting counsel, S.I. Suleiman asked the Court for a trial date and that the defendant be remanded at a Correctional Centre “as the defendant is now before your Lordship.”

Balogun did not object to the request of the prosecution for a trial date.

He, however, pleaded with the Court to be allowed to make an oral application for the bail of his client, which was granted by the Court.

He urged the Court to take into cognisance that the defendant was facing three other criminal charges preferred against him by the EFCC – two at the Federal High Court, Abuja and one at the Federal High Court, Lagos.

“He has met all the bail conditions and has not defaulted till date since 2016, and has faithfully attended his proceedings and the charges are bailable,” he said.

In response, Suleiman, noting that granting bail was at the discretion of the Court, said, “It should be made to ensure that the defendant attends his trial.”

Justice Abike-Fadipe, thereafter, admitted Fani-Kayode to bail in the sum of N5 million, with one surety in like sum who must be based in Lagos.

He was further ordered to file an undertaking to attend his trial.

The case has been adjourned till February 4, 2022, for ruling on pending application challenging jurisdiction and February 23, 25 and 28, 2022 for trial.

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