A former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, who had been undergoing trail over corruption charges, was on Wednesday morning discharged and acquitted by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Delivering her judgment, the Judge, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia ruled that the prosecution’s case was “feeble” and failed to provide “copious evidence” linking Mr. Fani-Kayode to money laundering.
The trial of the former Minister, who was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged laundering of about N100 million while he was minister of culture and tourism and subsequently, aviation minister, began in 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed.
On November 17, 2014, the allegedly laundered sum was reduced to N2.1million after the court dismissed 38 of the 40-count charge leveled against Mr. Fani-Kayode for want of proof.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Festus Keyamo, while urging the court to uphold the remaining two counts and to accordingly convict Fani-Kayode, said the former minister failed to exonerate himself of the allegations.
Mr. Keyamo pointed out that the object of the charge was that Mr. Fani-Kayode transacted in cash sums above N500,000, which was the threshold stipulated by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
This was as he had argued that Mr. Fani-Kayode admitted making such transactions in his confessional statement of Dec. 22, 2008 made to the EFCC.
Mr. Keyamo then contended that the prosecution had discharged its duty once it established that Mr. Fani-Kayode transacted in large sums above the Money Laundering threshold, adding that it was left for Mr. Fani-Kayode to explain the source of the money.
“Once you cannot explain the source of the large sum of money found on you, you are guilty of money laundering. If the prosecution must show where the money is coming from, then the whole essence of the money laundering law is defeated.
“It is not in all cases that the burden of proof lies on the prosecution; the burden at this point shifts to the accused person,” the EFCC prosecutor noted.
But in his summary argument, Mr. Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), maintained that his client made no confession to the EFCC, adding that the anti-graft agency failed to show that Mr. Fani-Kayode actually accepted a cash sum of N1million as alleged.
While pointing out that the EFCC also failed to show to the court the person who handed the cash sum to the accused person, Mr. Adedipe argued that for the case of the prosecution to succeed, it had to be proven beyond reasonable doubts.
(via Daily Post)