Lagos - The absence of prosecution counsel on Thursday stalled the trial of
Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, over alleged N230 million money
Fani-Kayode is standing trial on a 47-count charge before a Federal High
Court in Lagos.
The trial could not continue as scheduled because the lead counsel to
the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Festus Keyamo,
assigned a team of lawyers from his chambers to represent him.
The team of lawyers was led by Vitalis Ahaotu.
Counsel to the accused, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), therefore, challenged the
legality of Keyamo's chambers to appear in court.
Adedipe said that Keyamo had no legal authority to delegate his law firm to
practice on his behalf.
He cited Section 24 of the Legal Practioners Act, a 2007 Supreme Court
decision in the case of Okafor vs Nweke to back his argument.
"I object to the appearance of the chambers of Festus Keyamo by his
team of lawyers to prosecute this case.
"Keyamo is not authorised under the Legal Practitioner's Act to assign
his chambers to practise," Adedipe said.
However, the Prosecution Counsel, Ahaotu, urged the court to disregard the
submission of the counsel to the accused, arguing that
the counsel should have filed such submission so that they could give
Justice Rita Ofilli-Ajumogobia, consequently, adjourned the case till November.
27 for further mention and told the accused counsel to file his application
within two days.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the EFCC had on Febuary. 11, re-arraigned
Fani-Kayode over alleged money laundering and financial impropriety to the tune
of N230 million.
The former minister’s re-arraignment was consequent upon the re-assignment of
the case to another judge, following the transfer of the former judge handling
Fani-Kayode was previously, arraigned on December. 23, 2008, he pleaded
not guilty and was granted bail in the sum of N200 million, with two sureties
in like sum.
The EFCC stated that Fani-Kayode committed the offences when he was the
Minister of Aviation and that of Culture and Tourism.
The commission said that the offences contravened the provisions of the
Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.