Despite Being Prosecuted For Graft, Fani-Kayode Arrives Court With Armed Police Escorts

imageDespite being prosecuted for graft, an ex-Nigerian Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, appeared in the Lagos Federal High Court escorted by a contingent of weaponed policemen.

In the past when he was a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) he made his trial appearances almost unaccompanied.

Mr. Fani-Kayode now arrives the court grounds escorted by half a dozen weaponed policemen and State Security Services (SSS) officers.

A defence witness, Kola Olapoju, said during cross examination that in 2006, Fani-Kayode had requested for N1 million to “urgently” offset debts despite having over N8 million in his bank account.

The decision maker of the Fani-Kayodes’ property said that he was instructed by the ex-minister to give the money for the cost of artisans who had renewed his belongings.

“That wasn’t the first time the accused (Mr. Fani-Kayode) will be calling (on the phone) for money,” Mr. Olapoju, the first defence witness, said during cross examination, noting that the transaction was “unusual and exceptional.”

“Most of the time monies were requested for projects or for relatives or other beneficiaries and those were to be disbursed directly. And the few instances where he had to use the money, I’d have to pay either into his account, give to a staff, or use as appropriately directed.”
Mr. Olapoju added that in 2005, when ex-minister joined the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo, who was then a president, regular communications with him was “no longer as easy as it used to be.”
According to him Mr. Fani-Kayode asked him to “urgently” organise finances from renter of their property to pay the artisans.

The witness said he deposited the first portion of money – N1 million – on September 21, 2006, and the second payment – N1.1 million – was made eight days later.

The second defence witness, Aderemi Ajidahun, told the court that Mr. Olapoju had arrived at the accused’s office with money for his boss.
Mr. Ajidahun, who was Mr. Fani-Kayode’s Chief of Staff during the latter’s term of office, said they were childhood friends.

On September 29, Mr. Ajidahun said he received another call from Mr. Olapoju informing him he was in their office with cash for the accused.
“Again, the accused, and myself were not in the office. I asked him to call Agbaje who assisted him the other time to pay the money into the bank.”

The judge adjourned the trial to March 26 for the defence’s third witness.

The EFCC had established a 47-count pleading sum of N230 million against Fani-Kayode. Later, it was trimmed down to 40 counts of N100 million.

However, on Tuesday, February 24th, the judge ordered EFCC to release the ex-minister’s international passport talken by the commission after an order by Justice Ramat Mohammed when the trial commenced in December 2008.

The former minister is facing a two-count charge of money laundering before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.

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