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N100m fraud: Fani-Kayode to know fate July 1

A federal high court in Lagos on Thursday fixed July 1 for judgment in the money laundering trial of former finister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode. Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, the presiding judge, adjourned the case to July 1 following the absence of Festus Keyamo, the lead prosecuting counsel. The judge had refused to acknowledge the lawyer that announced appearance for Keyamo, saying she would prefer Keyamo, who had been prosecuting the case. On May 5, Ofili-Ajumogobia fixed June 18 for judgment following adoption of final written addresses and summary arguments by lawyers to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as well as that of the accused. Fani-Kayode, whose trial began before Justice Ramat Mohammed in 2008, was arraigned by the EFCC for allegedly laundering about N100 million while he was minister of culture and tourism and subsequently, aviation minister. However, the sum was reduced to N2.1 million on November 17, 2014 after Ofili-Ajumogobia dismissed 38 out of the 40 counts levelled against him for want of proof. While urging the court to uphold the remaining two counts and to accordingly convict Fani-Kayode, Keyamo said the former minister had failed to exonerate himself of the allegations. He 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 argued that Fani-Kayode had admitted making such transactions in his confessional statement to the EFCC on December 22, 2008. “In this statement, he admitted that he transacted in cash above N500,000. My Lord, this statement went in without objection by the accused person and the statement was voluntary,” he had said. “With the combination of this confessional statement and the statement of the IPO that investigated the allegation, we rely on all of this to submit that we have discharged our burden that monies were received by the accused person in cash and were not done through any financial institution.” Keyamo had argued that the prosecution had discharged its duty once it established that Fani-Kayode transacted in large sums above the m oney 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.” He further argued that the court should not simply believe that the large sums in cash that Fani-Kayode allegedly transacted were proceeds of his father’s estate, saying the accused should have called the tenant who paid the money as rent to testify in court and back it up with his statement of account. But in his argument, Ifedayo Adedipe, Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, 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. The lawyer said the defence had raised plenty doubts in the mind of the court regarding the veracity of the testimony of the EFCC witness, Supo Agbaje, who was earlier declared wanted by the EFCC and subsequently listed as a prosecution witness. While urging the court to discharge and acquit Fani-Kayode, Adedipe said the EFCC had no case against him, but was only striving to “show to the world that we have caught a big fish; but My Lord, there is no big fish here”. Follow us on twitter @thecableng

Source: http://www.thecable.ng

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