A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday fixed June 18 for judgment in the trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani- Kayode, charged with money laundering. Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia fixed the judgment following the adoption of final written addresses and arguments by the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the accused. Fani-Kayode, whose trial began in 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed, was accused by the EFCC of laundering about N100 million while he was the Minister of Culture and Tourism and later, the Minister of Aviation.
The laundered sum was, however, reduced to N2.1 million on Nov. 17, 2014 after Ofili- Ajumogobia had dismissed 38 of the 40 counts leveled against Fani-Kayode by the EFCC for want of proof. At the resumed trial of the case on Monday, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Festus Keyamo, urged the court to uphold the remaining two counts and to, accordingly, convict Fani-Kayode. He said the former minister had failed to exonerate himself of the allegations. Keyamo pointed out that the object of the charge was that Fani-Kayode transacted in cash sums above N500,000 which was the threshold stipulated by the Money Laundering Act.
He said that Fani-Kayode had personally admitted making such transactions in his confessional statement of Dec. 22, 2008 to the EFCC. Keyamo said: ‘In this statement, he admitted that he transacted in cash above N500,000. My Lord, this statement went in without objection by the accused and the statement was voluntary. “With the combination of this confessional statement and the statement of the investigating police officer that investigated the allegations, we rely on all of these to submit that we have discharged our burden that monies were received by the accused in cash and were not done through any financial institution.”
Keyamo argued that the prosecution had discharged its duty once it established that Fani- Kayode transacted large sums above the Money Laundering threshold, adding that it was left for Fani-Kayode to explain the source of the money. “Once you cannot explain the source of the large sums 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.