The trial of two former ministers, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode and Mrs Nenadi Usman, on charges of N4.6 billion fraud allegations suffered a setback on Monday.
The trial could not continue today at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos due to the absence of the third witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The counsel for the EFCC, Mr Idris Mohammed, told the court that the witness, who resides outside the court’s jurisdiction, is pregnant and on bed rest as advised by her doctor.
He, therefore, asked the court to grant an adjournment. The defence team did not oppose the application for an adjournment.
Mr Ferdinand Orbih, counsel to the first defendant – Usman, then informed the court of a pending ex parte application which he wanted to move. The court obliged him.
In the application, Mrs Usman is seeking leave of the court to serve a motion on notice on the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, over alleged acts of contempt.
Her counsel told the court that the minister had published a list of looters some weeks ago and had mentioned her as number 19 on the list.
Orbih noted that his client took such act very seriously, claiming it was an attempt to interfere with the proceedings before the court and portray the first defendant as already guilty of the charges before the court.
He, therefore, urged the court to grant the ex parte application enabling the defence to serve the said motion on notice on the minister in Abuja, by substituted means, as personal service may not be feasible.
In a short ruling, Justice Mohammed Aikawa held: “I have perused the application, including the supporting affidavits and I am satisfied that the application ought to be granted.”
“The application is granted save that it should be served on his (the minister) confidential secretary in Abuja,” he added.
The court then adjourned till October 2 for hearing of the motion on notice and for continuation of trial.
Usman is being charged alongside Fani-Kayode, as well as one Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), and a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd.
The EFCC had preferred a 17-count charge of money laundering against the accused persons.
In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.
In counts eight to 14, the accused were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
According to counts 15 to17, Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million, in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
Besides, Fani-Kayode was alleged to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
All offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money laundering (prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
The defendant had all pleaded not guilty to the charges.