The Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos says it will declare former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, wanted if he fails to appear on the next adjourned date for his trial.
Justice Olubumni Abike-Fadipe frowned upon the constant non-appearance of the defendant, noting that the last time he was in court was November 4, 2022.
Fani-Kayode is standing trial on a 12 counts bordering on the use of false documents, use of fabricated evidence, procuring the execution of documents by false pretense and fabricating evidence.
He pleaded “not guilty” to the charge when he was first arraigned on December 17, 2021.
After his arraignment and commencement of trial, the defendant has been absent at his trial on at least three adjourned dates, a development which the judge frowned upon.
At the last adjourned date, his counsel, Wale Balogun, informed the court of the absence of the defendant on grounds of ill health and some issues he was said to have had with the Department of State Services (DSS).
Balogun had also pleaded with the court to grant him an adjournment with a promise to make his client available at today’s proceeding.
When the matter was called today, Chinozo Eze, who represented the defendant told the court that Fani-Kayode was not in court due to health issues.
He informed 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.
However, the judge frowned upon the constant series of excuses that had been tendered by the defendant for his non appearances.
The court subsequently held that it will issue a bench warrant against Fani-Kayode if he fails to show up on the next adjourned date.
The judge also frowned upon the prosecutor for non-diligent prosecution of the case, noting that the EFCC can withdraw the matter if it is not ready to prosecute same.
Justice Olubumni Abike-Fadipe adjourned the case until November 7, 2023, for the continuation of trial.
See EFCC’s statement:
EFCC Press Release
Alleged Forgery of Medical Report: Court Threatens Bench Warrant Against Fani-Kayode, Adjourns Till Nov 7
Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, threatened to issue a bench warrant against Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation, over his “constant non-appearance” in court on grounds of ill health for his alleged forgery trial.
Fani-Kayode, who is also being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for an alleged N4.9billion fraud before Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, is facing a 12 count- charge before Justice Abike-Fadipe, following his alleged use of forged medical report(s), which he tendered at the Federal High Court to justify his absence in court.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Femi Fani-Kayode, on or about the 11th day of October, 2021 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, by fraudulently used a false document titled: Medical Report On Olufemi Fani-Kayode 60 Years/Male/Hosp. No. 00345 Dated 11/10/2021 before the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division in charge No. FHC/L/251C/2016 which document you purported to have been issued by Kubwa General Hospital.”
Another count reads: “That you, Femi Fani-Kayode, on or about the 23rd day of March, 2021 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, fraudulently used a false document titled: To Whom It May Concern Re: Femi Fani-Kayode Male/60 Years Hospital. No. 32145 Dated 23rd March 2021 before the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division in charge No. FHC/L/251C/2016 which document you purported to have been issued by Kubwa General Hospital.”
He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when he was arraigned on December 17, 2021.
At the last sitting on February 20, 2023, the defence counsel, Wale Balogun, had informed the court of the absence of the defendant due to ill-health.
“We regret to announce to your lordship that the defendant is not in court due to health reasons; and secondly, due to a running battle he has with both the DSS and the Police,” he had told the court.
Consequently, the matter was adjourned till May 24 and 25, 2023 for continuation of trial.
However, at today’s sitting, the counsel who represented the defendant, Chinozo Eze, informed the court of the absence of the defendant.
“The absence of the defendant in court is due to health issues,” Eze said.
He further informed the court that a medical report and a letter seeking the leave of the court to vacate the dates earlier granted by the court had been filed before the court.
Counsel to the EFCC, Z. Atiku, confirmed the receipt of the said letter, noting that the hands of the prosecution, in the circumstance, were tied.
Justice Abike-Fadipe expressed displeasure with “the constant non-appearance of the defendant”, noting that the last time he was in court was November 4, 2022.
“Series of excuses have been tendered by the defendant for his non-appearance,” the trial judge noted.
The court, therefore, threatened to issue a bench warrant against Fani-Kayode, if he again fails to appear in court at the next adjourned date of November 7, 2023.
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