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Court Slams N200,000 Fine on Fani-Kayode for Failing to Attend Arraignments

The Federal High Court in Lagos has imposed a N200,000 fine on Femi Fani-Kayode for failing to attend arraignment on five different occasions. Justice Daniel Osaigor imposed the fine on the former Minister of Aviation for frequently giving excuses for his failure to attend court.

Fani-Kayode and four others are facing 17 charges related to money laundering in the sum of N4.6 billion. The charges were brought by the EFCC and the others accused are former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Yusuf Danjuma, former Minister of State for Finance Nenadi Usman, and Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.

They all pleaded not guilty and granted bail after being arraigned before Justice Mohammed Aikawa. But Aikawa was transferred out of Lagos and the case was subsequently transferred to Osaigor.

When the case was called up for hearing on Wednesday, Attorney I.J. Ogechukwu appeared for Usman and B.F. Ajudua appeared for Fani-Kayode while Y. Olabode stood in for Danjuma and Jointrust. Bilikisu Buhari was the attorney for the EFCC.

After the case was called, it was found that Fani-Kayode was not in court even though his legal counsel attended the session. EFCC attorney Buhari told the judge that “whenever he [Fani-Kayode] doesn’t want to attend court, this is the type of letter we get.” But Ajudu responded that a recurring illness has kept his client from court while he is always in attendance as his lawyer.

Justice Osaigor then perused the court’s file and confirmed that the former minister had not been in court for five different times his arraignment was set. Then he gave Ajudua two options: to have Fani-Kayode’s bail revoked or be slammed with a N200,000 fine. The lawyer chose the second option.

“The second defendant will pay a cost of N200,000 before the next adjourned date, as the recurring medical excuse has been a pattern that slows this trial,” Justice Osaigor ruled.

The case was adjourned till November 30.