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Court threatens to arrest ex-aviation minister Fani-Kayode

Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court in Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday, threatened to issue a bench warrant against Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation, over his constant non-appearance in court on grounds of ill health for his alleged forgery trial.

The former aviation minister, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for an alleged N4.9billion fraud before Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, is also facing a 12 count- charge before Justice Abike-Fadipe, for allegedly tendering forged medical report(s), at the Federal High Court to justify his absence in court.

Fani-Kayode who pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when he was arraigned on December 17, 2021 has failed to appear before the court on several occasions, claiming ill health.

At the last sitting on February 20, 2023, his counsel, Wale Balogun, told the court that his client was absent due to ill-health.

Balogun said: “We regret to announce to your lordship that the defendant is not in court due to health reasons; and secondly, due to a running battle he has with both the DSS and the Police.”

As a result of this, the matter was adjourned till May 24 and 25, 2023 for continuation of trial.

However, on Wednesday, May 24, Chinozo Eze, the counsel who represented the defendant informed the court of the absence of the defendant due to ill-health.

He said: “The absence of the defendant in court is due to health issues.”

Eze further informed the court that a medical report and a letter seeking the leave of the court to vacate the dates earlier granted by the court had been filed before the court.

Reacting to the development, Z. Atiku, counsel to the EFCC, while confirming the receipt of the said letter, told the court that the hands of the prosecution, in the circumstance, were tied.

Justice Abike-Fadipe who noted that the last time the defendant was in court was November 4, 2022 expressed displeasure with the defendant’s constant non-appearance in court.

The trial judge said: “Series of excuses have been tendered by the defendant for his non-appearance.”

The court, therefore, adjourned the matter to November 7 with a warning that a bench warrant will be issued against Fani-Kayode, if he again fails to appear in court at the next adjourned date.

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