A Federal High Court in Abuja declined on Wednesday the application for the issuance of bench warrant against former aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, being tried for alleged money laundering related offences.
At the mention of the case on Wednesday, lawyer to the prosecution, Mohammed Abubakar, noted that Fani-Kayode was absent.
Abubakar recalled that Fani-Kayode had been absent in court on two other days and argued that the defendant was scheming to evade trial.
He then applied to the court to revoke the bail granted the defendant, issue bench warrant for his arrest and order the issuance of summons on his surety to show cause why he (the surety) should not forfeit the bail bond he endorsed.
Defence lawyer, Wale Balogun, objected to the request made by the prosecution and argued that his client was absent in court because of ill-health.
Balogun, who later tendered a medical report from Kubwa General Hospital, Abuja, in which he said the defendant was advised to have bed rest until December 4, 2020, added that his client’s absence was equally on account of a misrepresentation by his lawyer, who thought the case was fixed for Thursday.
Ruling, Justice John Tsoho held that the court was satisfied with the defence lawyer’s explanations as to why the defendant was absent.
Justice Tsoho noted that the court had held that Fani-Kayode’s absence on two previous occasions on January 22 and October 23 this year was justified.
The judge said with the medical report, signed by one Dr. Michael O., the court found no reason to grant the application made by the prosecution.
Justice Tsoho however faulted Balogun’s argument, the application made by Abubakar under Sections 179 and 184 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), ought not to be made orally.
He also faulted the defence lawyer’s suggestion that the defendant was absent in court because he was misled by his lawyer.
The judge agreed with Abubakar that in a criminal case, it is the personal responsibility of a defendant, who is on bail, to know the adjourned date in the case involving him/her.
He adjourned till February 23 and 24 next year for the continuation of trial.
Fani-Kayode is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a five-count charge in which he is accused of diverting N26m allegedly received from the ONSA while Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) was in office.
Fani-Kayode is also accused of handling the said N26m without going through financial institution as required under the Money Laundering Act.