By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode’s claim that extra-judicial statements he made at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were not voluntary was on Monday dismissed by the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
He disowned the statements during his trial for money laundering involving about N4.6billion and prayed Justice Rilwan Aikawa not to admit them in evidence.
EFCC charged, Fani-Kayode, Director of Publicity of the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2015, along with former minister of state for finance Mrs. Nenadi Usman.
They were arraigned with former Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) Chairman and ex-Chairman of Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Mr. Yusuf Danjuma, and a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited.
The other defendants also disowned their statements.
The defence counsel, Messrs Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), Norrison Quakers (SAN) and Clement Onwuenwuenor, urged the judge to order a trial-within-trial to test the statements’ voluntariness.
But, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, maintained that the statements were voluntarily made, adding that there was no need for a trial-within-trial.
Ruling yesterday, Justice Aikawa agreed with the prosecution and dismissed the objections.
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,” he ruled.
Justice Aikawa said 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 defendants were accused of violating the Money Laundering Act by indirectly retaining N300million, N400million and N800million, all proceeds of corruption, according to EFCC.
Count one of the charge reads: “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.”
Fani-Kayode was also 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.
The defendants pleaded not guilty.
Justice Faji adjourned until July 4 for continuation of trial.
Culled from The Nation