A Federal High Court in Lagos has discharged and acquitted a former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, of corruption charges.
In her judgment, the judge, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, said the prosecution’s case was “feeble” and failed to provide “copious evidence” linking Fani-Kayode to money laundering.
Fani-Kayode, whose trial began in 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly laundering about N100 million while he was minister of culture and tourism and subsequently, aviation minister.
The allegedly laundered sum was, however, reduced to N2.1million on November 17, 2014 after the court dismissed 38 of the 40-count charge leveled against Fani-Kayode for want of proof. The EFCC prosecutor, Festus Keyamo, while urging the court to uphold the remaining two counts and to accordingly convict Fani-Kayode, said the former minister failed to exonerate himself of the allegations.
Mr. Keyamo pointed out that the object of the charge was that Fani-Kayode transacted in cash sums above N500,000, which was the threshold stipulated by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
Keyamo had argued that Mr. Fani-Kayode admitted making such transactions in his confessional statement of Dec. 22, 2008 made to the EFCC.
Keyamo had argued that the prosecution had discharged its duty once it established that Fani-Kayode transacted in large sums above the Money Laundering threshold, adding that it was left for Fani-Kayode to explain the source of the money.
“Once you cannot explain the source of the large sum of money found on you, you are guilty of money laundering. If the prosecution must show where the money is coming from, then the whole essence of the money laundering law is defeated.
“It is not in all cases that the burden of proof lies on the prosecution; the burden at this point shifts to the accused person,” Keyamo argued.
But Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), in his summary argument, maintained that Fani-Kayode made no confession to the EFCC, adding that the anti-graft agency failed to show that Fani-Kayode actually accepted a cash sum of N1million as alleged.
Adedipe said the EFCC also failed to show to the court the person who handed the cash sum to the accused person.
He said for the case of the prosecution to succeed, it had to be proven beyond reasonable doubts.