Ikeja May 24, 2023
An Ikeja Special Offences Court on Wednesday threatened to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, for failure to appear for his trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Olubumni Abike-Fadipe frowned at constant non-appearance of the defendant for the trial.
Fani-Kayode is standing trial on a 12-count charge bordering on use of false documents, use of fabricated evidence, procuring execution of documents by false pretences, and fabrication of evidence.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, on arraignment on Dec. 17, 2021.
The judge noted that Fani-Kayode appeared last for the trial on Nov. 4, 2022.
Abike-Fadipe cited excuses that had been given by the defendant for non-appearance.
She consequently threatened to issue a bench warrant against him if he would fail to show up at the next adjourned date.
The judge also showed displeasure at lack of diligent prosecution of the case.
She said that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecuting the case could withdraw it if it would not prosecute it diligently.
She adjourned the case until Nov. 7 for continuation of trial.
The defendant was alleged to have forged medical reports which he tendered before Justice Daniel Osiagor of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, where he is being prosecuted by EFCC for an alleged N4.9 billion fraud.
His counsel, Mr Wale Balogun, had on Feb. 20, informed the court of the absence of the defendant due to health reasons and issues he had with the Department of State Services (DSS) and police.
“We regret to announce to your lordship that the defendant is not in court due to health reasons, and due to a running battle he has with both the DSS and the police,” he said.
Balogun had prayed the court to adjourn the case, promising to make the defendant available at Wednesday’s proceedings.
However, when the case was called on Wednesday, Mr Chinozo Eze, who represented Balogun, told the court that Fani-Kayode was not in court due to health issues.
“The absence of the defendant in court is due to health issues,” Eze said.
Eze further informed the court that a medical report and a letter seeking the leave of the court to vacate the adjourned date had been submitted to the court.
EFCC counsel, Mrs Zinat Atiku, confirmed the receipt of the said letter.