The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has re-arraigned former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode as well as former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman, before a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.
Fani-Kayode, who was the director of media and publicity in the failed re-election campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan, and Nenadi Usman, are standing trial on a 17-count charge of alleged money laundering and diversion of N4.6 billion.
Others included as defendants in the suit are Danjuma Yusuf, former National Chairman of Association of Local Government of Nigeria, ALGON, and a company, Joint Trust Dimension Nig. Ltd.
The defendants all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The re-arraignment became necessary after Fani-Kayode demanded that the former judge handling the case, Muslim Hassan, stood down.
Hassan, who was an officer at the legal department of the EFCC before his appointment as a judge, was the person who signed a criminal charge for which Fani Kayode was previously tried.
Following his withdrawal, the case was reassigned to a new judge, Rilwan Aikawa.
Before Monday’s hearing, Justice Hassan had granted Fani-Kayode and his co-accused persons bail to the tune of N250 million and two sureties in like sum who must possess landed property within the court’s jurisdiction.
Also, during the last hearing of the case on March 1, one of the accused persons, Nenadi Usman, had asked the court to separate her charges from that of Fani-Kayode.
Her lawyer, Abiodun Owonikoko, told the court that it was not convenient for his client to be traveling to Lagos each time the case comes up.
He also pointed out that it serves the end of Justice for the case to be transferred to Abuja, where the offence was allegedly committed.
But EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the application, saying that the chief judge of the federal high court could not exercise his powers to transfer a case where the prosecution had called its first witness.
He noted that 13 of the listed 17 witnesses the prosecution intends to call all live in Lagos.