Lagos - A Federal High Court in Lagos on
Monday fixed June 18 for judgment in the trial of a former Minister of
Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, charged with money laundering.
Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia fixed the judgment following
the adoption of final written addresses and arguments by the counsel to the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the accused.
Fani-Kayode, whose trial began in 2008 before Justice Ramat
Mohammed, was accused by the EFCC of laundering about N100 million while he was
the Minister of Culture and Tourism and later, the Minister of Aviation.
The laundered sum was, however, reduced to N2.1 million on
Nov. 17, 2014 after Ofili-Ajumogobia had dismissed 38 of the 40 counts leveled
against Fani-Kayode by the EFCC for want of proof.
At the resumed trial of the case on Monday, the EFCC
prosecutor, Mr Festus Keyamo, urged the court to uphold the remaining two
counts and to, accordingly, convict Fani-Kayode.
He said the former minister had failed to exonerate himself
of the allegations.
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Keyamo 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 Act.
He said that Fani-Kayode had personally admitted making such
transactions in his confessional statement of Dec. 22, 2008 to the EFCC.
Keyamo said:"In this statement, he admitted that he transacted
in cash above N500,000. My Lord, this statement went in without objection by
the accused and the statement was voluntary.
"With the combination of this confessional statement and
the statement of the nvestigating police officer that investigated the allegations,
we rely on all of these to submit that we have discharged our burden that
monies were received by the accused in cash and were not done through any
Keyamo argued that the prosecution had discharged its duty
once it established that Fani-Kayode transacted large sums above the Money
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 sums 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," Keyamo
He further argued that the court could not simply believe
that the large sums that Fani-Kayode allegedly transacted were proceeds from
his father's estate.
According to him, the accused should have called the tenant
who paid in the money to testify in court and also back it up with his bank’s
But Fani-Kayode's counsel, Mr Adedayo Adedipe (SAN), in his
summary argument, maintained that Fani-Kayode made no confession to the EFCC,
adding that the anti-graft agency had failed to show that Fani-Kayode actually
accepted cash amounting to N1million as alleged in one of the counts.
Adedipe said the EFCC also failed to show to the court the
person who handed over the money to the accused persons.
He said for the case of the prosecution to succeed it must
be proved beyond reasonable doubts.
"My Lord, it is our submission that the accused does not
have to prove his innocence; it is the prosecution that must prove its case
beyond all reasonable doubts.
"In this particular case, the prosecution has failed to
give the evidence of acceptance of N1 million in the entire trial, and none of
the witnesses brought by the prosecution gave evidence of giving the accused
cash," Adedipe said.
The lawyer said the defence had raised doubts in the mind of
the court regarding the veracity of the testimony of the EFCC’s witness, Supo
He said that Agbaje had earlier been declared wanted by the
EFCC and subsequently listed as a prosecution witness.
Adedipe added:"My Lord, reasonable doubt exists as to
what happened and that doubt should be resolved in favour of the accused.
"Do we believe Agbaje, a man fighting for his liberty, for
his life, who was remanded? Reasonable doubt exists in the testimony given by
Supo Agbaje, who was declared wanted by the EFCC and later used as a
Adedipe, while urging the court to discharge and acquit
Fani-Kayode, said the EFCC had no case against him, but it was only striving to
"show to the world that we have caught a big fish; but My Lord, there is
no big fish here."
Ofili-Ajumogobia, while fixing judgment for June 18, also
granted an application to substitute Wale Ajisebutu with Ogbor Elliota as
surety for Fani-Kayode.