A Federal High Court in Lagos has granted bail in the sum of N250m each to a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, and ex-finance minister, Nenadi Usman, who are being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for an alleged N4.9bn fraud.
Justice Muslim Hassan granted the bail with two sureties in like sum and ordered Fani-Kayode and Usman to deposit their passports in the custody of the court pending the outcome of the case.
The sureties, the court said, must be owners of landed properties within the court’s jurisdiction.
They were also to present evidence of tax clearance in the state.
Also admitted to bail with the same conditions is one Danjuma Yusuf, who is standing trial along with other accused persons.
Joined as the 4th defendant in the suit is a company, Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited.
The accused persons were on June 28, 2016, arraigned before Justice Hassan on 17 counts of conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering.
Fani-Kayode, who was the Director of Media and Publicity for the Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidential Campaign Organisation in the 2015 election, was accused of conspiring with the others to directly and indirectly retain various sums, which the EFCC claimed they ought to have reasonably known were proceeds of theft.
The accused persons were said to have allegedly committed the offences between January 8, 2015 and March 25, 2015, in the build-up to the general elections.
Delivering his ruling on their bail applications on Monday, Justice Hassan held that there was no evidence that the accused would interfere with trial if granted bail.
He noted that denying the accused persons bail, especially as the courts prepared for holiday, would not serve the interest of justice.
Accordingly, he admitted the first, second, and third accused persons to a bail in the sum of N250m each with two sureties each in like sum.
In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Fani-Kayode, who it listed as the 2nd defendant in the charge sheet, and his co-defendants conspired among themselves to “indirectly retain the sum of N1,500,000,000.00, which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing.”
The EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, had told the court that the said conspiracy and indirect retention of the N1.5bn constituted an offence under Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3)( 4) of the same Act.
In another count, the EFCC alleged that Fani-Kayode “directly retained the sum of N350m,” which the anti-graft agency claimed he ought to have “reasonably known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing.”
Fani-Kayode was accused of directly using parts of the money at various times, including between March 20 and 25, 2015, when he allegedly used N250,650,000.00 out of the money.
Fani-Kayode was also accused of making a cash transaction of N24m with one Olubode Oke, said to still be at large, on February 12, 2015, to “Paste Poster Co of 125, Lewis Street, Lagos Island.”
The duo were said to have made the transaction without going through any financial institution, an act the EFCC claimed was contrary to sections 1(a) and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
Justice Hassan adjourned till October 19, 2016, for the prosecution to open its case.
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