Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has reportedly arrested former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode.
FFK it was gathered arrived at the Lagos office of the anti-graft agency at about 1pm on Tuesday in the company of his lawyer.
He is accused of forgery and manipulation of documents.
EFCC is investigating FFK for allegedly forging hospital documents he used to hoodwink the court in stalling his money-laundering case currently before a court of law.
Fani-Kayode might well be deploying a contrived method between him and some medical personnel on the medical excuses to enable him evade trial.
The EFCC, after receiving the defendant’s latest letter, observed the trend Fani-Kayode’s letters had taken in getting adjournments and decided to take a hard look at the development.
The agency observed all the letters were supposedly issued from the Kubwa General Hospital, Abuja, except one issued from the Federal Staff Hospital, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja.
The letters were signed by different doctors, with the last one in October stating that the “patient (Fani-Kayode) has been diagnosed by one Dr. S. A. Tobechukwu” and signed by him.
The agency wrote to the Kubwa General Hospital on October 12, 2021 seeking authenticity of the letter. The hospital replied the next day, October 13, 2021, debunking Fani-Kayode’s claim and declaring there was no Doctor Tobechukwu in its employment and that, in fact, none of the names of the ‘doctors’ who purportedly issued the five letters existed in the hospital’s records.
The hospital also disclosed that no Femi Fani-Kayode had ever been diagnosed or treated as a patient at the hospital. The letterhead on the paper that Fani-Kayode used for his letters, the hospital stated, was fake and did not bear its reference number, just as the format of the patient’s number that he used did not tally with the format in the hospital’s database.
Consequent upon that finding, the EFCC wrote to Fani-Kayode on November 4, 2021, inviting him to report at its Lagos office on November 10, 2021, for a chat.
Fani-Kayode responded to the EFCC letter on November 9, 2021, stating he would be unable to honour the invitation because he would be appearing before an Abuja court on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, in a criminal case, and would need to prepare for the case with his lawyers. He requested that the agency shift the date to November 17 or 18, 2021.
But he did not show up on the newly appointed day. Instead, he again said he would honour the invitation on November 24, 2021, and should be allowed to appear at the Abuja office instead of the Lagos office of the EFCC. But the agency promptly rejected his request to appear at the Abuja office rather than the Lagos office as the money laundering case against him that had elicited the invitation to him was being heard at a Federal High
Court, Lagos, and not in Abuja.
The EFCC had on June 28, 2016, arraigned Fani-Kayode; Nenadi Usman, who was the Minister of State for Finance during the former president Goodluck Jonathan administration; Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), and a limited liability company, Jointrust Dimentions Nig. Ltd. before Justice Muhammed Aikawa on a 17-count charge of the N4.6 billion money laundering trial.
The defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015, shortly before Jonathan left office in May 2015 following his defeat to President Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential election. Fani-Kayode, who was the Director of Media and Publicity in the Jonathan government and a member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in September this year).
The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the counts and were granted bail.
In the charge, Fani-Kayode alone was accused of making payments to Paste Poster Co. of No. 125, Lewis Street, Lagos, above the maximum amount allowed by law. He was also said, in counts 15-17, together with one Olubode Oke, who is at large, to have made cash payments of about N130 million, in excess of the amount allowed by
The EFCC alleged in counts 1 to 7 of the charge that the defendants unlawfully retained a sum of over N3.8 billion “they should have known formed part of proceeds of stealing and corruption.”
They were also alleged in counts 8 to 14 to have unlawfully used a sum of over N970 million, “which they reasonably ought to have known was part of corruption money.”
But the trial has suffered many adjournments, mainly due to Fani-Kayode’s request for adjournment on medical grounds.
According to the court’s records, Fani-Kayode had written to the court seeking adjournment on February 1, 2018; May 20, 2019; November 24, 2020; March 21, 2021, and October 9, 2021.
At the last hearing on October 13, 2021, Bilikisu Buhari, who had announced an appearance for the prosecution, told the court that the EFCC had received Fani-Kayode’s letter on October 11, 2021, stating a doctor had given him bed rest.
Buhari said letters from the defendant had become the fashion whenever he wanted to avoid a court appearance.
“Whenever he wants to avoid court, this is the type of letter we get,” she said.
Justice Daniel Osaigor, who had been assigned the case after Aikawa was transferred out of the Lagos jurisdiction of the court, also expressed his dissatisfaction with the former aviation minister’s absence in court and his numerous medical excuses.
Osaigor said he had examined the court file on the case and noted that the defendant had sought adjournment on five occasions on virtually the same medical grounds.
The judge then fined Fani-Kayode a sum of N200,000, to be paid before the next adjournment date or he would revoke the bail the court had granted him, saying, “the recurring medical excuse has been a pattern that slows this trial.”
It’s not the first time the former aviation minister is been grilled by the EFCC.
His recent arrest may, however, be seen as a surprise by many considering his recent defection to the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC.
More details later…