The federal high court Ikoyi, Lagos has ruled against the plea of Femi Fani-Kayode, a former minister of aviation, asking the court to ignore the statement he offered to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Ridean Aikawa ruled against Fani-Kayode on Monday during the hearing of the N4.6 billion money laundering case preferred against him by the anti-graft agency.
Fani-Kayode had distanced himself from the statements and urged the court not to admit them in evidence.
Fani-Kayode, who was the director of publicity to the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2015, is being tried alongside Nenadi Usman, former Minister of State for Finance, Yusuf Danjuma, a former council chairman, and Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited.
The other defendants alongside Fai-Kayode also disowned their statements.
In their argument before Justice Aikawa, lawyers to the defence, Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), Norrison Quakers (SAN) and Clement Onwuenwuenor, prayed the court to issue an order for a trial-within-trial, to test the voluntariness of the statements.
Opposing this plea, Rotimi Oyedepo, lawyer to the EFCC, insisted that the statements were voluntarily made, adding that there was no need for a trial-within-trial.
Justice Aikawa agreed with Oyedepo. He held that a trial-within-trial is only necessary where a statement sought to be admitted “is manifestly confessional".
“In the present case, none of the statements is confessional. A trial-within-trial is therefore unnecessary,” Justice Aikawa said.
The judge also insisted that the statements complied with the provisions of Section 17 (1) and (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which provides that someone must be present to witness a statement.
The anti-graft agency had accused Fani-Kayode and others of violating the Money Laundering Act by indirectly retaining N300 million, N400 million, and N800 million, all proceeds of corruption.
Count one of the charge read: “That you, Nenadi Esther Usman, Femi Fani-Kayode, Danjuman Yusuf and Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd on or about the 8th day of January, 2015, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to indirectly retain the sum of N1,500,000,000.00 which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing.”
Also, Fani-Kayode was accused of making a cash transaction of N24million with one Olubode Oke, said to still be at large, on February 12, 2015 “to Paste Poster Company of 125, Lewis Street, Lagos Island,” contrary to the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
But the defendants argued before Justice Aikawa that they are not guilty.
The matter was adjourned until July 4.
Signup for FREE news updates, latest information and hottest gists everyday