Judge threatens bench warrant against Fani-Kayode

A Lagos State Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, on Wednesday, threatened to declare a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, wanted over his refusal to appear before the court for his trial.

Fani-Kayode is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on 12 counts bordering on the use of false documents, use of fabricated evidence, and procuring the execution of documents by false pretence.

The ex-minister was alleged to have forged medical report(s), which he tendered before Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court in Lagos, where he is being prosecuted by the EFCC for an alleged N4.9bn fraud.

Justice Olubumni Abike-Fadipe, who was displeased with Fani-Kayode’s refusal to appear before the court to face his trial after his arraignment on December 17, 2021, and subsequent adjournments, made the threat on Wednesday when the matter came up.

At the last adjourned date, the defendant’s counsel, Mr Wale Balogun, informed the court of the absence of the defendant, citing ill health, which he said was connected to Fani-Kayode’s encounter with the Department of State Services, which grilled him over some comments ahead of the general elections.

Balogun had pleaded with the court to grant him adjournment with a promise to make him available at Wednesday’s proceeding.

But at the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday the defendant’s counsel Mr Chinozo Eze, told the court that Fani-Kayode was not in court due to health issues.

He informed the court that a medical report and a letter seeking the leave of the court to vacate the two dates were already in the court’s file.

EFCC Counsel, Zinat Atiku, confirmed the development and said the prosecution’s hands were tied as to how to forge ahead.

However, the judge frowned on the repeated absence of the defendant, noting that the last time he was in court was November 4, 2022.

The judge cited a series of excuses that had been tendered by the defendant for Fani-Kayode in court to face his trial.

Justice Abike-Fadipe, consequently threatened to issue a bench warrant against him if he fails to show up at the next adjourned date.

The judge also frowned on the prosecutor for lack of diligence in the prosecution of the case, noting that anti-graft could withdraw the matter it was not ready to prosecute it.

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