Alleged Forgery : Court To Declare Former Minister, Fani-Kayode Wanted
Justice Olubumni Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos State has threatened to declare a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, wanted if he fails to appear on the next adjourned date for his trial on the forgery allegation.
Justice Abike-Fadipe decried Fani-Kayode’s constant non-appearance in court, saying that the last time he was in court for the trial was on November 4, 2022.
Recall that the former minister is standing trial on a 12-count charge bordering on the use of false documents, use of fabricated evidence, procuring the execution of documents by false pretense and fabricating evidence.
Fani-Kayode had pleaded “not guilty” to the charge when he was first arraigned on December 17, 2021, but after his arraignment and commencement of trial, he has been absent at his trial on at least three adjourned dates, a development which the judge frowned upon.
Channels TV reports that at the last adjourned date, Fani-Kayode’s counsel, Wale Balogun, informed the court of his absence on grounds of ill health and some issues he was said to have had with the Department of State Services (DSS).
Balogun also pleaded with the court to grant him an adjournment with a promise to make Fani-Kayode available at Wednesday’s proceeding, but when the matter was called on Wednesday, Chinozo Eze, who represented the defendant told the court that he (Fani-Kayode) was not in court as a result of health issues.
Eze told the court that a medical report and a letter seeking the leave of the court to vacate the two dates listed for hearing is already in the court file.
The counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Zeenat Atiku, confirmed the development and said the prosecution’s hands are tied as to how to forge ahead.
But Justice Abike-Fadipe frowned at the constant series of excuses that had been tendered by Fani-Kayode for his non appearances in court.
The judge therefore threatened that it will issue a bench warrant against the minister if he fails to appear in court on the next adjourned date.
Justice Abike-Fadipe further frowned at the prosecutor for non-diligent prosecution of the case, noting that the EFCC can withdraw the matter if it is not ready to prosecute it.
The judge thereafter adjourned the case to November 7, 2023, for the continuation of trial.